MUSIC CHAMPIONS ASSEMBLY inspires us to learn about POW WOWS – by Carson M.

Guest post by 5/6F student Carson M.


On Friday, April, 24th, 2015, Rousseau students celebrated First Nations culture at a special “Music Champions Celebration”, featuring guest performers Jay Shawana & the group O Niagara. They also viewed a documentary by community media specialist Vanessa Crosbie Ramsay. As well, students viewed the music videos created by students in Classes 4/5O,  5/6F and 6R,  who participated in the 3-month-long “Music Champions” program, a program offered by the Royal Conservatory of Music (“Learning Through the Arts”). Students had the chance to experience some First Nations dancing, singing and learn about the specifics of these performances. As I said on a previous blog post, “it was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see all of the dances”, but as the blog also states, it’s not a once-in-a-lifetime experience! If you want to experience more of this original Canadian culture, you could go to a Pow Wow. I decided to look further into Pow Wows, here’s what I learned!

Just by searching up: “First Nations PowWows Hamilton” I got tons of cool websites that show dates for upcoming Pow Wows of all First Nations cultures! Here is a link for a website full of PowWow schedules for the Province of Ontario!

Here are some specific Pow Wow dates:

What is a Pow Wow? Pow Wow time is a First Nations peoples gathering and meeting together, to join with each other in various celebratory events such as dancing, singing, visiting, renewing old friendships and making new ones. This is a time to bring back the thoughts of the good ol’ ways and to keep the rich heritage alive! Pow Wows or “celebration” as it was called back then, were held in spring to welcome new life and different tribal nations would come together for the event. The different groups would take this time to settle arguments, form alliances and trade with each other. Also, families would hold naming and honoring ceremonies. Original Pow Wows were often of religious significance furthermore, they consisted of religious dances and songs. However at contemporary Pow Wows, religious dances are not usually performed. Contemporary Pow Wows is a social event for everyone to have an awesome time, whether you are a Native Canadian or not! It offers a chance for Native Canadians and also Native Americans from tons of different tribal nations to get together and participate in visiting, signing and dancing. Also it is a chance for our non-First Nations people to come and take part in inter-tribal dancing for a Pow Wow is considered a cultural sharing event for all to learn about Natives and to share information and ideas.

The Pow Wow season is from March to September or later and some choose to “go the circuit” for the entire season. They might travel all over Canada, and even parts of the United States. People also take part in competitive dancing and signing for money is a recent change in the traditional Powwows. You must be registered to partake.

The word Powwow, some trace, belongs to the Algonquin language. Originally pronounced “pauau” or “pau wau” which means “gathering of medicine men and spiritual leaders in a curing ceremony”. Early European settlers thought that the term meant a council or a large gathering of native peoples, so the word spread through the nation. As the natives learned the English language, they accepted the term and definition given to their social events.

“The circle is an important symbol to First Nations  cultures because it symbolizes  the continuation of life. To the Native Candians, life is never ending, exactly like the geometric shape we, today call, a circle. Powwows bring the circle of the people closer, closer to their culture and their community”

I hope you learned something about Pow Wows from this post and until next time, this is Carson singing off. Have fun!!!!

DAY 120 – Tues. March 10th – Music Champions/LTTA, Social Studies (First Nations People), Writing/Speeches, Math/Division

Fawcett’s Class DAILY QUOTE:

MUSIC CHAMPIONS – Media, Music, Community Building, Social Studies

Today, students had their second session learning about Visual Storytelling. Our community media expert, Vanessa Crosbie Ramsay, facilitated the beginning stages of our music video creations

We are taking our  inspiration from the songs about community  that we created in our clan groups in sessions with musician/producer Jay Shawana

Both Vanessa and Jay are involved with our class, Miss Rankin’s class and Mr. Obermeyer’s class as part of the HWDSB partnership with the Royal Conservatory of Music and community artists for the “Learning Through the Arts (LTTA)” program. Our sessions are called “Music Champions”. Today, we also welcomed three additional special guests in our classroom. It was exciting to welcome more members of the community into our school!

“Form in Music” – As we planned the length of our music videos, it was necessary to review the structure of our songs. Our songs consist of elements that Jason shared with us from traditional Ojibwe or Anishinaabe songs, such as those performed around a drum at PowWow. The songs consist of vocables (sound effect words ) and also lyrics in the language of the singers (in our case, English). Each song has a theme of community. Ms. Fawcett reviewed form in music – and we noticed that our songs follow an ABA form

A (vocables)    –     B (lyrics, in our language)    –     A  (vocables, repeated)

Vanessa and the students got further acquainted today, by sharing an interesting or important fact about themselves – and Vanessa quizzed us afterwards 🙂 Do we really listen and learn about people when they share? (Ms Fawcett’s provocation for professional reflection this year: Do we listen to respond, or do we listen to understand?)   We used a matching game to become acquainted with vocabulary used in video production.

Through the creation of our songs about community, we were storytellers. 

Our song lyrics will be basis for the stories in our music videos.

Everyone in our student groups will experiment with the different roles of video production & everyone will have equal say! Ms. Fawcett emphasized our learning about community – Everyone’s voice is valued and heard in a functioning community. Even as we try to think about the roles that we would personally like and enjoy as individuals, we always need to be compassionate and consider everyone’s point of view.

In our clan groups, we reflected on the roles we will play in the production of our music video.   Vanessa helped students illustrate filming concepts like wide-angle shots and close-ups…while Mr. Yokoyama took pictures of us taking pictures! Before our next session on Friday when we will film the video portion of our music videos, we will work in class with our clan groups to create our music video Storyboards.   We also worked today on creating movements/drama/tableaux for our music videos that reflects the meaning of our songs. We will use the elements of Visual Storytelling that Vanessa helped us brainstorm last time: IMG_1439.JPG   IMG_1441.JPG We also use student expertise when possible ~~ this will become so important during the filming and editing stages (iMovie). Today, one student shared his expertise with the class about how to save images online that we might use as “stills” in our videos. IMG_1450.JPG   IMG_1453.JPGIMG_1452.JPG   We are very excited to film on iPads on Friday!  We will use the iMovie app to put it all together!   LITERACY – Speech Writing/Oral Communication Today, some students finished writing speeches or memorizing speeches, or practiced their oral delivery of their speeches. Students who have completed their speech delivery enjoyed some independent reading time.

MATH – Division Today we reviewed basic concepts of division. Divison is the inverse operation of multiplication

factor    x    factor =  product

product   ÷  factor   =   factor

fr_1309_size1024   fr_1307_size880

Jan. 28, 2015



Today, all Junior classes participated in their first of 8 “Music Champions” workshops. The workshop is made possible through a partnership between the HWDSB Arts department, the Royal Conservatory of Music and community guest artists. The program centres around learning curriculum through the lens of First Nations culture, especially Music. We will be enjoying eight sessions between now and March, first with a guest musician and later with a media specialist. All Junior classes receive 2 periods of instruction in Music each week, from September to June with Ms Fawcett ~~ and those periods remain part of the regular schedule. Music Champions is happening in addition to the regular Rousseau Music program and we will be covering parts of the Social Studies curriculum while also building community.

The first four sessions will be led by musician Jay Shawana, who is a member of the Ojibway community. Jay is a musician and an audio engineer! He also visits schools to share First Nations culture. Jay danced with us today wearing his “regalia”. The rattles on his legs are made from deer hooves; his vest is decorated with animal bone, his decorative shield has feathers; his head dress has hawk feather, horsehair and white ermine; and his bustle is made from two large fans of blue heron feathers.



The dance has a steady beat!

Men tell a story of the hunt through their dance with a small rhythmic stomp; women dance “heel to toe” to massage Mother Earth.

Includes three closely related communities: Ojibway communities, Odawa communities, and Potawatomi communities.

Jay’s Dad is a drum keeper and he always lets Jay to bring the drum into schools. One side of the drum is made from thick moose skin that resonates with a low pitch. The other side is made with deerskin, which is much thinner resonates with a higher pitch.


The drum or “dewe-igan” is considered a “living heartbeat”. We give the drum life when we beat the drum, and the drum gives us back life. We can feel the drum beat resonating in our chest, especially if we sit close enough.

The Ojibway believe a Creator gave the first drum to a woman of the community. The men were all away fighting (hunting rights, territory). The woman was told by the Creator to bring the drum into the heart of the community to bring peace & stop the fighting.

The songs sung with the drum include sound effects or “vocables” instead of words (onomatopoeia!)

The Medicine Wheel is a guide for how to live with balance: to have health and strength and wisdom. Women are believed to already be strong. Women are the leaders of First Nation cultures because they are born with the most “strength” (emotional, character, determination, etc.) As they get older, women can even give life and nurture life.

Men need to develop their strength through medicine. Drumming is considered to be a medicine. The men sing at the drum at a higher register of voice than they usually use. The men are “birthing” the song. The high register of their voice is a sound like the cries of a woman or the cries of the baby. Through drumming and singing together, men can develop the strength that the women already have. The themes of drumming as medicine include Harmony & Community.

No one owns a drum, but the drum keeper looks after it. Even though The drum is an inanimate object (not alive), it is considered to holds the spirits of the grandfathers and elders (it’s a metaphor). Jay refers to the drum as a “him” and the drum is treated like a member of the family. The drum is covered with a blanket when not in use, and is seat belted in the car, etc..

Jay allows us ALL to participate in drumming – boys and girls – so we can understand the medicine of drumming.

Each Song has 3 parts:
– The “lead” drummer starts
– the call back is where everyone echoes the lead
– the body of the song

We sang and drummed together! Jay was the lead and we did the call back.






Read a summary about the HWDSB’s “Learning Through the Arts” program (of which Music Champions is a part) here at the Hamilton Community Foundation website (one of the financial partners of the program)


Five students from our class traveled with Mrs. Stinson and some other junior students to the HWDSB Junior Empowerment conference. Thanks Mrs. Stinson, and thanks to Mrs. Mattern for sending us pictures. All students from he co Terence had a chance to work with Jay, too, when they came back. They joined 6R for this one session.




We had our outdoor break time separate from the rest of the school – but we still had all of our eating & outside minutes 🙂




We continue to learn about Mean in math. Today, we generated four sets of our own class data. We counted how many sit ups, jumping jacks, knee ups, and wall push ups we could each do. Then we compiled our individual data to make a set of data for each exercise. We found the mode, median and mean of each set of data. Each grade will do different learning with the data, according to their individual expectations.

JANUARY 28TH Reminders:

1. read 20  min.

2. read the class blog :

* * * * *     3. Pyjama day tomorrow!    * * * * * *