National fiddler shares his knowledge

By Jessica Dempsey

April 19, 2018 2:13 PM

Daniel Gervais with Music Alive was at Ecole St. Thomas last week and taught the children some Metis dance and music. JESSICA DEMPSEY LLS PHOTO

École St. Thomas was able to have a special guest come by and teach them about music last week.
Daniel Gervais played for the school as part of the Music Alive program by the National Arts Centre.
“He has a grant to go around and educate kids about folk music, francophone folk music, and metis francophone music,” said Jacqueline Peters, a Grade 3 teacher at École St. Thomas, adding bringing this type of musician to the school was important.
“It’s our heritage,” she said. “Because the Metis were the French and the First Nations that came together and invented a new type of folk music, and it goes with our education and curriculum for the First Nations education program.”
Gervais was the 2011 and 2016 Canadian Grand Master Fiddle Champion. He has been teaching a variety of students at different ages and abilities with many music organizations.
“He’s a very talented folk musician,” said Peters. “He’s educating the kids on the different styles of music that was created with the two worlds coming together.”
The reaction from students Peters said was they really loved the experience.
“Once he starts playing his fiddle, the feet start going and it’s music that was created to dance to and to join along. You can feel it in the air when he starts playing,” she said.
Along with listening to Gervais, the students have learned plenty of other dances, songs, and traditional folk songs.
Grade 3 student Maria Gebhardt said she really enjoyed all she had learned throughout the day.
“He showed us a dance (and) I like doing the dance because it’s pretty simple and you get to do it with a partner,” she said.
This was the first time she had learned the dances he showed, and she said it was pretty easy.
Overall out of the experience, Peters said she hoped the students were able to learn more about their history.
“Just to appreciate our culture,” she explained. “How to appreciate different types of music, and to also realize how community based we are around Alberta/Saskatchewan.”

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