CBCMusic.ca and MusiCounts, a branch of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (the organization behind the Junos), have teamed up for a nationwide talent search to find Canada’s Greatest Music Class. The contest, which commenced on October 26 and runs until November 30, is open to students participating in traditional music classes, music clubs, and after-school programs and asks them to submit a video performing their own interpretation of one of eight popular music songs. The winners and their respective student body will receive a special assembly concert by a Canadian musician.
Tom Power, host of CBC Radio 2 Mornings with Tom Power, says that the competition is not about pitting classes against each other, but rather an effort to introduce todays music in an academic context. “We’re trying to get ensembles to take on different approaches to music,” he explains. “I really think we have some of the most talented student musicians in the world in our country and it’s about allowing them to have fun with this music and perform it in their own original way and their own creative way.”
The diverse selection of Canadian songs that the applicants are asked to choose from range from artists like Coeur de pirate and k-os to Barenaked Ladies and Serena Ryder. The choice of using popular music of today was made to both provide students with the opportunity to play with songs that many of them are already familiar with and to explore the true musical merit behind them.
“There’s cases in which more modern popular music is treated in some way as ‘other’,” Power says. “These songs, not only do they have value, but they’re in many ways very good songs. I think the quality of the song was important; we tried to pick songs with interesting melodies, with interesting orchestrations that would allow them to maybe fit well with different ensembles and songs that bands and ensembles could just have fun with — songs that are fun to play and a little different to play and represent a wide slot of what Canadian music is right now.”
The judging panel, comprised of musicians and CBCMusic.ca journalists, are not looking for flashy, choreographed, or professionally produced entries; instead, the winning class will be selected based on the inventiveness of their interpretation. It’s not about doing a cover, Power maintains, but about being given a template and then deconstructing it using ones own methods. Imagine “If I Had $1,000,000” re-arranged and sung by a classical choir.
Classes will also have the opportunity to apply for new musical instruments and equipment through MusiCounts’ Band Aid Program — a platform that provides instruments to public schools across Canada. Power says joining forces with MusiCounts was a natural fit. “For us, it’s really about promoting and encouraging new music and for MusiCounts, it’s largely about providing the tools of the trade to make music, whatever that music may be,” he says. “I think it’s a great step for us to have an impact in Canadian communities, in Canadian schools, and also just give young people an opportunity to have some fun playing music.”
Canada’s Best Music Class will close on November 30 at 11:59 p.m. and the judging process will begin on December 1. To submit a video, visit CBCMusic.ca/musicclass. The winning class will be announced on December 4.