British Columbia

East Vancouver school gets surprise Marianas Trench visit

Students at Lord Selkirk elementary school in East Vancouver got a surprise visit from the rock band Marianas Trench, who were there to help announce the school had won a $10,000 musical instrument grant from Musicounts.

The rock band helped a musical education charity drop off $10K worth of instruments

The members of Vancouver-based Marianas Trench met with children at Lord Selkirk elementary school, after the announcement that the school had won a $10,000 grant for its music program on Tuesday. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Students at Lord Selkirk elementary school in East Vancouver were working through a rendition of Marianas Trench's song, Who Do You Love, when they discovered they were unknowingly performing the song for the award winning band.

Teachers told the students — who had only a week and a half to learn the track — that they were performing it for a grant application with the musical education charity, MusiCounts

But halfway through their second attempt at the song, the gym stage's curtains were drawn to reveal the band, along with a pile of new instruments — the school had, in fact, already won the $10,000 grant and the performance was a ruse.

A Lord Selkirk student plays piano during a performance of the Marianas Trench song, Who Do You Love. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

"I felt like I had excited butterflies, like I couldn't believe they actually came to see us perform," said Grade 4 student Viduni Siriwardana. 

Classmate Diego Alatorre was also pretty stunned by the sudden appearance of the rock stars.

"I was like, whoa," he said. "I thought we were competing, so I was kind of surprised that we got the ten something dollars."

Josh Ramsay, Marianas Trench's lead singer, said he was impressed by the students' rendition of the band's song.

"Fantastic, better than our version," he said, adding he's enthusiastic about the MusiCounts grant program.

"It's awesome to be involved. We're just kind of here, helping hand out stuff. I don't think we can really take much credit for what they do, but I think it's an amazing program," said Ramsay, who actually met bandmate Matt Webb in the music program at Vancouver's Magee secondary school.

The music program will be getting a full class set of new guitars, along with many other instruments. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Amanda Hennessey, the Lord Selkirk music teacher who got the school's application organized, pointed out that the school has its fair share of low income students.

"A lot of our kids are on breakfast programs, backpack programs, sending food home for Christmas kind of stuff, so these kids, a lot of them don't get private lessons, so school is the only time they learn an instrument," she said.

"For us, [the grant] means we're not playing guitars from the 60s and 70s. It means that every student gets their own instrument. It means we have lots of music in the school," said Hennessey.

MusiCounts director Kristy Fletcher (left) announces the $10,000 grant for the Lord Selkirk music program, as music teacher Amanda Hennessey looks on. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

MusiCount selects dozens of schools each year for $5,000 and $10,000 grants.

"They don't all get a rock band showing up, but hopefully the messaging around this is that we hope schools will apply," said the charity's director, Kristy Fletcher.

The organization is aiming to reach a total of $10 million in grants next year when it marks 20 years in operation.

"Music education is pivotal for kids, particularly at a developing age. There's so much research and science to back up the fact that music education increases your cognitive functioning; it increases your self-confidence," said Fletcher.

"More importantly, it's the social impact as well. There are such positive social connections formed through music education."

Lord Selkirk elementary students approach the gym's stage where the rock band Marianas Trench appeared on Tuesday, along with a pile of new musical instruments. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Siriwardana said she was looking forward to the new instruments.

"I feel like it's going to make a difference to our school, because usually you have — especially for the pianos, you have to wait your turn to play the pianos," said the Grade 4 student.

"I think for the new instruments you could, like, have your own instrument and then play it without having turns and having to wait. So. I think that's going to make a big difference."

A lucky Grade 4 class got to stay behind to meet Marianas Trench after the other classes returned to their classrooms. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Follow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker