Longtime Whistler musician Rachel Lewis is reviving a children’s music program in the community.
Prior to the pandemic, Ira Pettle was running the resort’s popular Music Together classes, but “he convinced me I’d be a good candidate,” Lewis says.
Not only does she perform in local bands and offer vocal coaching, but Lewis also has two young sons of her own.
“It works out really well,” she adds.
So, this past spring, she attended training to become an official Music Together teacher and director of the Music Together Whistler Centre. Now, she’s set to run her first session from July 5 to Aug. 24 in her backyard in Alpine, before moving indoors to Myrtle Philip Community School for the fall.
The worldwide program has 12 unique collections of music, each based on a different instrument each session. (The Whistler summer session is “kazoo.”)
“You will not repeat a collection of classes until you’ve been going three years straight,” Lewis says. “The music is all Music Together music. When you come to my class, it’s not ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider.’ It’s not stuff you’ve necessarily heard before.”
On top of that, the classes are open to babies and kids up to five years old.
“My Music Together teacher said, ‘Kids are going to be separate in everything for the rest of their lives—school, ski school, bike camp.’ This is the one thing they can do together,” Lewis adds. “It’s beneficial to the young ones to have the older ones to look up to for a couple of reasons … The kids are role models. Once they see a kid participating, they start mimicking that behaviour. The older kids become the teachers. They really do listen to each other.”
While the program is designed to build basic music competency in kids, in a way, it trains parents, too.
“It’s actually more parent education and giving them tools to help build this basic music competence at home,” Lewis says. “It’s really different. The parents’ involvement is really important. The kids are free to stand up and move around or dance, take an instrument, and walk away with it. We don’t want there to be any pressure on the parent or kid to do anything I’m telling them to do. The only thing I’m asking of anybody is asking the parents to be participants. They’re the role models for the children.”
Lewis is hosting a free demo class at the Whistler Public Library on June 3 from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. Already, with little promotion, 18 families have signed up, leaving only two spots open.
“I made my first social media post about bringing [the program] back to the community this past Monday … and I got emails and personal messages and comments and likes,” she says. “The response was super encouraging, so I’m hopeful and optimistic the summer semester will have high enrolment and we’ll be ready to continue in the fall at Myrtle Philip.”
For more information or to register, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit facebook.com/musictogetherwhistler. Registration opens on May 29 at 10 a.m. The classes run for 45 minutes on Wednesdays at 10 a.m. or 3:45 p.m., or Thursdays at 11 a.m.
To register for the free session at the library, email email@example.com.