Grade 4 and Grade 5 students at Harmony Heights Elementary School put on a Living Wax Museum May 9 – appearing in costume and in the role of popular music makers.
Lucas Walsh stood motionless in a purple blazer and flouncy ruffled blouse holding a big white guitar. A visitor to the school pushed a small yellow button on the purple blazer and Prince came to life reciting his life history and musical accomplishments.
“I like his songs and I wanted to choose someone who died this year or last year,” said Lucas. “Purple Rain is probably my favourite song of his.”
Each student researched their subject, prepared a script and costumes and then stood in the gym waiting to perform when their button gets pushed.
Lucas said the experience of learning about Prince and performing the script was fun.
“I liked learning about him and his songs,” said Lucas. “You’re continually saying your speech and if you forget a little bit, well you just keep on going – it’s fun.”
Brianna Muise chose to perform Rachel Ashley Platten because she likes the singer’s big hit Fight Song.
“I like her singing, she puts in a lot of good details. In Fight Song she expresses a lot of feelings,” said Brianna.
Shona MacPhee, the music teacher at Harmony Heights, led the Grade 4s and Grade 5s through the project.
“The idea is to make connections to music and musicians, writers, singers, performers – people who perform music the students listen to or music they don’t listen to,” said MacPhee. “The students really took to this project. They really got into it. Some of them were asking to actually perform the music of their performers but that would have taken the whole project to another level and we didn’t have time for that.”
MacPhee said the project combined Language Arts skills like research and script writing with learning about the lives of people who work with music.
“You can feel the vibrations in the school today – the whole school is excited about the project and the other students are listening respectfully. The younger kids are asking me when they can do this project so that is a good sign,” said MacPhee.