Overcoming obstaclesMusic workshop in Behchoko reaches fifth year
Northern News Services
Monday, June 19, 2017
Treyson Smith-Gentleman knows what it takes to overcome stage fright.
Treyson Smith-Gentleman records a song he helped to write during a recent music workshop at Chief Jimmy Bruneau School in Behchoko. This is the fifth year the workshop has taken place. -
The Grade 5 student at Chief Jimmy Bruneau School was part of a group that performed a song in front of the school as part of a music workshop this month.
Smith-Gentleman said he and fellow singers only gave in to their nervousness after their performance was over.
"We were so shy when everyone was clapping we ran out to the cafeteria and hid there after we finished," he said.
This is the fifth year Vancouver, B.C. musician Chris Witoski has visited Behchoko to deliver music workshops, said Jacqueline Stanbridge, CJBS teacher and Witoski's sister.
His annual visit is a highlight of the school year and students are benefitting from the consistency of having the workshop each year, Stanbridge said.
"He's become very close with many of the kids, he knows our staff and our students," she said.
"The relationship is such an important piece, the kids perform better. They're more creative because the comfort's there. "
Witoski agreed. Visiting year after year means students can build on their skills and hone their individual talents.
"There were a couple of kids I worked with last year that greatly improved over the last year, their confidence was higher, the performances were better, they were more comfortable," he said. "They kind of knew what to expect."
Witoski visited the school the week of June 5 and spent five days working with students to brainstorm ideas for lyrics before recording them singing their songs.
He then takes the material back to his studio in Vancouver where he applies the finishing touches.
Each student receives a copy of their professionally edited song and the school receives a video of the week's workshop.
Students are also encouraged to perform their songs in front of an audience and this year, Smith-Gentleman and his group sang as part of a Coffee House fundraiser on June 9 to raise money for Northern Youth Abroad students.
"It was awesome and just so positive," Stanbridge said. "There is a lot of bravery behind that, to get up in front of your peers. The public was invited as well and we had some parents come and just some students who have graduated in the past."
For Smith-Gentleman, the best part of the week was getting a chance to perform the song he helped to write.
"We were a bit shy at first, but it felt good after a while," he said.
The song, which will be titled The Note, is about overcoming insecurity. The lyrics tell the story of a boy who is too afraid to speak to a girl he likes, so he leaves a note in her locker instead.
Doing the workshop last year helped him to better develop his song ideas - and the courage to perform, Smith-Gentleman said.
Witoski also noted his talent.
"He had the confidence and he's quite a creative little guy," he said. "He had a lot of good ideas."
Now that he's a seasoned performer, Smith-Gentleman said he had some words of encouragement for others who are still too afraid to sing in front of an audience.
"No one will laugh at you when you go and sing," he said. "You'll do great."
The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs provided funding for the workshop, Stanbridge said.