Go Back To All News

Fairbairn/Plaxton entry takes first place in 2023 Canadian Music Class Challenge

The winners have been announced for the 2023 Canadian Music Class Challenge, and two Lethbridge School Division schools are at the top of the class.
Music classes from across the country submitted their very best instrumental and vocal renditions of pre-approved songs for the chance to win top prizes, as judges selected Senator Joyce Fairbairn Middle School and Dr. Robert Plaxton Elementary School's performance of, If it Feels Good Do It, by Sloan, as the best submission in Category 4: Junior Instrumental (grades 7-10).
Julie Nesrallah, opera singer and CBC Music host of Tempo, was impressed with the Fairbairn/Plaxton submission.
"What a super video and how excellent to see your whole school involved!" said Nesrallah. "Loved the ribbon section, who added visual sparkle to your brilliant performance. You guys have soul and the joy and excitement of playing together was palpable. Shout-out to the groovy bass player — you rocked!"
Work on the project began in September, when Kyle Harmon, the Band Teacher at Fairbairn, and Sarah Harmon, the Fine Arts teach at Plaxton, selected the Sloan song due to the fact it included multiple riffs that would transfer nicely to band.
"After we chose a song, I created an arrangement for our band, which Kathy Zaborsky later transcribed and co-arranged," said Kyle Harmon. "Sarah created original parts for her Grade 3 class as well that feature music making and choreography. Then we went to work with our students. Five weeks later, we gathered to record our video."
He added the main challenge throughout the process included giving students an idea of the scope of what the respective bands were getting themselves into.
"There is a lot of rigor that goes into the recording process, and students must constantly refine what they are doing during every take during the recording process," said Kyle Harmon. "Take number five was 'the one!' After we recorded the song with all of our 140 students, there was an sense of accomplishment and genuine excitement that was felt across all grades participating in this project."
He added as a musician and a teacher, it is certainly rewarding to be recognized on a national level.
"As many of us in the arts know, we create our own art because it enhances our lives and gives us a platform to share joy with others," said Kyle Harmon. "I hope that our kids feel deeply satisfied with this accomplishment. They earned this achievement. I also hope this experience establishes a sense of passion and appreciation for music that will last a lifetime. I'd also like to say to any students sitting on the fence, join band."
For Sarah Harmon, there were a few highly-rewarding moments that stood out in the process of the project.
"Students selecting instruments they were interested in playing for the performance, and the general inquiry of what instruments could sound good together for a performance of this kind," were just some of the highlights, she said.
She added the first time both Grade 3 classes rehearsed their multiple parts together, and it sounded fantastic, boosted the enthusiasm and momentum of the project. 
"Experiencing our combined groups playing together for the first time in take one of the recording was magic," she said. "There was an energy in the room so unique to the creative process and being vulnerable in our music."
And of course, nothing beats the experience of taking first place in a national competition.
"Announcing to the Grade 3 musicians our first place win was pretty fantastic," said Sarah Harmon. "The students shared that it meant so much to them that people heard their music and liked it. They said we tried our best and in the end we won! Another student expressed pride in creating something we could share. Lastly, a student said the reward was co-operating and supporting one another." 
The official submission video can be found here: MUSIC CLASS CHALLENGE.
For another video, that details the process of putting the submission together, click on this link: FAIRBAIRN/PLAXTON.