It's been amazing. They're inspiring to me.
—Keri Latimer, musician and mentor
They're the musicians of tomorrow. And probably the future audience for the Winnipeg Folk Festival, too. The Festival's Musical Mentors program has been running for three and a half years now, making a big difference to some of Winnipeg's young people.
The program pairs up aspiring high school musicians with musical mentors, despite the fact that some of the students have never played an instrument before. This year, more than 100 students participated, working with the mentors once a week.
Jennifer Davis is the education and outreach coordinator at the Winnipeg Folk Festival and has been organizing the program since the beginning. She says it's having a huge impact on the students.
"I get tons of reports from teachers and educators that the kids are opening up, they feel better about themselves, they're more creative, they work better in groups and their attendance is up," she said.
Over the course of the program, students presented a concert and wrote an original song they recorded in one day at CBC Winnipeg.
Singer Brandon Daniels helped to write "Snow Day Party", the song the group recorded. He says he really enjoys the creative process, especially with his friends, all students at R.B. Russell School. "It's fun. You throw in ideas, they throw in ideas, it's very easy."
For student Catherine Robichaud, also a singer, the recording process is the most exciting part. "It's overwhelming, it's crazy," she said.
Juno award-winning musician Keri Latimer helped mentor the students, she enjoyed working with the students, despite the challenges of writing a song as a group. "They're so exuberant and positive, and they're all so different! It was tricky just trying to pick an idea from so many ideas. It's been amazing. They're inspiring to me."
Damon Mitchell was also part of the mentoring team for the first time. "I think it's been even more fun for me than them," he said. "It makes me happy, especially sharing, teaching. It brings me joy. You've got to pass it on, someone helps you, when you get older, pass it on."
Sistema music education program enriches lives of young students.