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Kamloops elementary school in national music challenge with Arkells and Serena Ryder covers

Winners to be announced Dec. 18
Lori Froese's class singing People's Champ by the Arkells. (via CBC Music/YouTube)

A pair of classes at R.L. Clemitson Elementary is hoping to become the People's Champ when it comes to a national music contest.

Lori Froese's two classes, one consisting of Grade 7 students and one Grade 6/7 mix, are participating in the CBC Music Class Challenge. The annual competition pulls a list of contemporary Canadian songs for music classes to play in their own way. A panel of judges then looks at the performances and awards musical instruments as prizes.

"It's a project I've been wanting to do for the last couple of years," Froese tells KamloopsMatters. "This year, I felt I had the students who were strong enough."

The diverse abilities of her students, including ukulele and xylophone players, meant she could arrange the Arkells' recent hit People's Champ and Serena Ryder's What I Wouldn't Do.

Jolie and Gabe Stoll, Grade 7 twins (one in each class), were excited to take on the project.

"I personally think it turned out really good," Jolie says. "We had to practice a really long time."

"I'm mostly excited, I'm not that nervous," Gabe adds. "Even if we don't win, it was still a cool experience."

While People's Champ's politically charged lyrics can be a bit of a downer, Jolie says the class swapped out the "rude" words and came up with a new set.

"Before, it was about how Donald Trump is a really bad president," she says. "We did it about our secretary; we did it in a positive way."

For What I Wouldn't Do, the class had to modify the key.

"The key was too low, so our singers were having difficulties singing that low," Gabe says. "The ukulele chords were different."

Gabe had fun as one of the ukuleles and hopes to pursue guitar classes.

Froese says if one of the classes does win their category, the money for musical instruments will likely go toward instruments that might have made the pop songs a bit easier to play.

"We'd like to get a bass guitar, we've never had one," she explains. "We have odds and sods of drum kits; it'd be awesome to have our own."

She adds they had to be creative when it came to arranging the songs without the usual rhythm section.

One of the highlights now that the songs are up on YouTube is watching what other schools are doing with the same songs and sort of comparing notes, Froese says.

"It's so cool for us, also, to be able to watch other videos from across the whole country," she says. "It's a really cool connection."

Overall, all three agree the project has been a really positive exercise. While Gabe and Jolie are headed to Valleyview Secondary next year, Froese says she'd like to tackle the challenge next year, depending on how her classes are doing. Jolie, in particular, is excited at taking another shot, as well.

"I would definitely, 100 per cent, do this again. It was really fun," she says.

CBC Music has a team of judges looking over the videos. There are more than 1,000 submissions so far. According to CBC Music's website, the top 10 in each category will be listed on Dec. 11. The winners will be announced on Dec. 18.


Brendan Kergin

About the Author: Brendan Kergin

Brendan Kergin is a digital reporter based in Kamloops.
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