Missy Raines, “Royal Traveller”

Women in bluegrass—unfortunately, sadly—get short shrift. Ask about the greats, and you’ll open the floodgates for a lot of testosterone. That said, women have long been doing great work and, while often enough, have actually been acclaimed for it. Much of what we think of as bluegrass guitar—a rhythm with a melody picked within it—isContinue reading “Missy Raines, “Royal Traveller””

Checking in with Alternadad: A conversation with Neal Pollack

In 2007, Neal Pollack wrote a book that would become a touchstone for parents who were determined to raise children—as the marketing copy for the book suggested—without growing up too much themselves. They wanted to be cool, and they wanted their kid to be cool, complete with a solid appreciation of the Ramones. In theContinue reading “Checking in with Alternadad: A conversation with Neal Pollack”

Profile: Carmette Gooding

By Glen Herbert, for The Grenadines Initiative “We call it the Big Rock,” says Carmette Gooding, “but it’s the only rock.” She recalls jumping off of it into the surf when she was growing up on Bequia. “We’d wait for the biggest wave to come, then we’d jump in it. When the wave was breaking.Continue reading “Profile: Carmette Gooding”

NICK HORNBUCKLE: Twelve by Two (Plus or Minus One)

For Sing Out! On 12 X 2 (+/-1) – pronounced “Twelve by Two (plus or minus one)” – Nick Hornbuckle takes up a dozen old-time tunes and makes a lovely bit of magic. The title refers to the number of the tunes, each played as a duet, more or less. Hornbuckle is joined by five kindred spiritsContinue reading “NICK HORNBUCKLE: Twelve by Two (Plus or Minus One)”

Do island students need STEM?

STEM is about engaging collaboratively, thinking creatively, across disciplines. And, in education and business, its fast becoming the way of the world. STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. And, at its simplest, that’s what STEM programs provide: an intensive focus on the hard sciences. In practice, however, it’s much more thanContinue reading “Do island students need STEM?”

Birds, books and fatherhood: An interview with Jane Yolen

Jane Yolen isn’t perhaps a name that is as familiar to us as some other children’s authors, though her books certainly are. Owl Moon is as powerful as it is unique, the story of a father taking his daughter owling one cold winter night. “It is gentle yet adventurous,” says Yolen, “quiet yet full ofContinue reading “Birds, books and fatherhood: An interview with Jane Yolen”

Profile: Sister Cherrylyn Glynn

For nearly three decades, Sister Glynn has been providing essential services to the youth of Bequia By Glen Herbert “I love my work because I get to meet people directly,” says Sister Cherrylyn Glynn. “It’s one-to-one. I do counselling, I get to meet the families.” For the bulk of her career Glynn’s been in theContinue reading “Profile: Sister Cherrylyn Glynn”

What does it mean to be a global learner?

Schools like Pickering College are redefining international education by Glen Herbert for Our Kids   There was a time when the concept of international education and global learning was principally about experience: getting students out into the world, travelling, first to Europe and then further afield. The world was posited as a rich museum ofContinue reading “What does it mean to be a global learner?”

Learning to lead

Quebec’s Camp Nominingue leadership program offers transformative and important experiences for youth by Glen Herbert   “It’s something big for me,” says Olivier Girard when speaking about last summer, the one he spent as a Leader in Training (LIT) at Camp Nominingue. “I’ve never had a month like that in my life.” Certainly, he hasn’t, and heContinue reading “Learning to lead”

Camping differently

While not all children love all camps, there’s a camp for every child to love. by Glen Herbert   Despite increasing enrollments at technology camps—in some cases reaching into the thousands—there are those who will question the place of technology within camp programming. As founder of Brick Works, a tech camp based in Waterloo, Ontario, that’s a concern DavidContinue reading “Camping differently”

Reimagining girls’ education

The Linden School’s ongoing impact on how we think about how girls learn. By Glen Herbert All private schools defy the stereotypes that the general population might have about private education, though the Linden School is a particularly stark example of that. Founded by Diane Goudie and Eleanor Moore in 1993, the school was intendedContinue reading “Reimagining girls’ education”

Off to school

by Glen Herbert Lauriel Stowe wants to be a volcanologist. “We had a geography class,” she says, recalling some years ago, “and [the teacher] was talking about plate tectonics, and I really found the topic interesting.” She did some of her own research and, among other things, learned that there is only one working volcanologistContinue reading “Off to school”

Night owls by nature

Some schools, such as Toronto Prep School, are adapting their schedules to their students’ sleep cycles. The question is, why aren’t they all?  by Glen Herbert   “The optimal time for teenagers to learn is late in the morning through to late afternoon,” says Fouli Tsimikalis, vice principal of Toronto Prep School (TPS), a school sheContinue reading “Night owls by nature”

Do all students need tutors?

Cutting edge academic programs, such as Focus Learning, suggest that, yes, they do. by Glen Herbert for Our Kids   When we think of after-school academic programs, thoughts first turn to remediation: extra classes to help struggling students raise course marks. For some, that’s certainly the impetus, though ‘tutorial,’ more properly understood, refers to a styleContinue reading “Do all students need tutors?”

A Brief History of Boarding Schools

The British Tradition British boarding schools have historically provided the model for boarding schools in Canada. Prime among the antecedents is the King’s School in Canterbury, England. It was founded in the year 597 and, until the dissolution of the monasteries act nearly a century later, it remained a cloistered religious institution. At King’s, studentsContinue reading “A Brief History of Boarding Schools”

DANIEL KOULACK and KARNNEL SAWITSKY Fiddle and Banjo: Tunes from the North, Songs from the South

For Sing Out! I adore this album. The title says exactly what it is, fiddle and banjo, and Koulack and Sawitsky apply them to a handful of wonderful tunes and sparkling performances. There are some voices, too, and lots of energy, as on a great, rousing arrangement of “Little Birdie.” But there are lots ofContinue reading “DANIEL KOULACK and KARNNEL SAWITSKY Fiddle and Banjo: Tunes from the North, Songs from the South”

Gabby’s story

For the Grenadines Initiative Gabby Ollivierre’s first real experience of snow came with a freak storm that hit Calgary on October 2. It was notable by anyone’s standards–the storm made national news in Canada–though especially for someone from the islands who had yet to get a proper pair of boots. When I met her atContinue reading “Gabby’s story”

David Benedict’s “The Golden Angle”

There is no piece of music, and for that matter no musician, that exists alone. Music, by its very nature, is call and response, each person adding their voice to an ongoing conversation. Some people can see a bit further down the road, or skip a couple rhetorical steps, and those are the people weContinue reading “David Benedict’s “The Golden Angle””

Balsam Range, “Mountain Overture”

It’s easy to wonder about the attraction bluegrass bands have to working with orchestras, but it’s a trend that doesn’t seem to be dying anytime soon. Cherryholmes, Daily and Vincent, Michael Cleveland—the cynic might feel that it’s a desire to grant respectability, and what better way to do it than to sit in front ofContinue reading “Balsam Range, “Mountain Overture””

Chris Coole, “The Road to the River”

(Penguin Eggs, Nov 2018) In the world of magic there are the big stage illusions—cutting a person in half, making an elephant disappear—and there is table magic—cards, coins, cups and balls. The two are both thought of equally as magic, but they are of such different orders as to be different undertakings entirely. To theContinue reading “Chris Coole, “The Road to the River””

Kadeen’s story

For the Grenadines Initiative  “On Bequia, if you tell someone that you are going to be a pilot, they don’t believe,” says Kadeen Hazell. “They think it’s just talk.” He feels that’s true for most people on the island: they don’t have a sense of real possibility. Kadeen, from early days, clearly wasn’t most people.Continue reading “Kadeen’s story”

Clay Parker and Jodi James, “The Lonesomest Sound that Can Sound” 

I’m not sure why I love this recording so much. We like to talk in superlatives whenever given a chance, and it’s not the best of anything, or the most skilled, or the most telling. It’s just, well, lovely. The voices are beautiful, the thoughts quietly moving. The playing doesn’t jump out at you, butContinue reading “Clay Parker and Jodi James, “The Lonesomest Sound that Can Sound” “

3 key steps to an allergy-free summer

(For Ourkids.net) As we move into summer, we also move deeper into allergy season. Because both day and overnight camps can include a lot of time communing with the outdoors, parents can expect their children to exhibit a range of reactions. Children suffering from allergies tend to experience higher levels of irritability and sadness thanContinue reading “3 key steps to an allergy-free summer”

The cognitive benefits of Mandarin/English dual-language instruction

(For Ourkids.net) “When you learn a second language,” says Donna Booth, “it lets you know that there’s more than one way to do things.” As principal at Toronto’s Dalton School, an English/Mandarin dual-immersion school in Toronto, Booth sees the benefits of that in her work every day. Less obvious—though becoming more so—is how learning languages can affectContinue reading “The cognitive benefits of Mandarin/English dual-language instruction”

Brunch with the Lonesome Ace Stringband

(Penguin Eggs, May 2018) Chris Coole often comments during shows that the Lonesome Ace Stringband—a trio that includes John Showman (fiddle) and Max Heineman (bass)—formed out of a brunch gig. There’s some tongue-in-cheek in that, though there’s some truth in there as well. The three did actually start playing formally together for a brunch gigContinue reading “Brunch with the Lonesome Ace Stringband”

Why do parents consider private school?

The answer is best expressed in a single word: Choice   “The common school ideal is the source of one of the oldest educational debates …  The movement in favour of greater educational choice is the source of one of the most recent” —Rob Reich[1] Education in public schools remains the dominant form of education inContinue reading “Why do parents consider private school?”

The Grascals, “Before Breakfast”

(For HVbluegrass.org) Some songs, like Tom T. Hall’s “I Love,” unintentionally demonstrate that there’s a fine line between sincerity and satire. Some people maybe find the song to be a simple presentation of a complex idea. Others, Bob Dylan among them, think of it derisively as the “little baby duck” song:  I love little babyContinue reading “The Grascals, “Before Breakfast””

The Wailin Jennys, “Fifteen”

The Wailin Jennys is one of those groups that causes lots of people to fall all over themselves with praise. And they’re absolutely right to. Truly, you can’t say enough good things about them. It starts here: “One Voice.” Their latest release will cause lots of praise too, just as it should. When I heardContinue reading “The Wailin Jennys, “Fifteen””

Andy Hall and Roosevelt Collier, “Let the Steel Play”

Remember Josh Graves? How about Tut Taylor? Or Paul Franklin? For anyone other than guitar geeks the names conjure something like memories, if not quite formed enough to warrant the term. They are all steel guitar players, meaning they played guitars with a piece of steel. Slide players. Which means that they were side players,Continue reading “Andy Hall and Roosevelt Collier, “Let the Steel Play””

Bela Fleck, Abigail Washburn, “Echo in the Valley”

One of the delightful moments is this recording is in the 5th track, when both segue into a lovely take on Bela Fleck’s “Big Country.” It’s a tune he’s presented himself a lot, most notably within the “Live from the Quick” release. It’s not as challenging as some of the things he does, which makesContinue reading “Bela Fleck, Abigail Washburn, “Echo in the Valley””

Volume Five, “Milestones”

When people who are really into wine talk about wine they don’t tend to speak in generalities, but rather a whole range of specifics. They talk about the hints of this and that, the various notes of such and such. Seeing people talk about these things on TV, it seems it’s not just descriptors. TheyContinue reading “Volume Five, “Milestones””

Students praise Lakefield College School for Outdoor Ed program

“I thought, ‘this is the place where I could be the best version of myself.’” for Ourkids.net One of Betsy Macdonnell’s first glimpses of life at Lakefield College School was a grade 9 outdoor education class, one of the stops on her first tour of the campus. “I remember seeing how supportive they were withContinue reading “Students praise Lakefield College School for Outdoor Ed program”

This camp will change your life

Learning confidence, leadership, and life skills at Quebec’s Camp Nominingue for OurKids.net by Glen Herbert Not every Rhodes Scholar has been to Camp Nominingue, but at least one has. Colin Robertson got the nod last November. One of the first people he called with the news was the director of Nominingue, Grant McKenna. That saysContinue reading “This camp will change your life”

Welcome to Canada, Welcome to camp

(for Our Kids) “They made me do the presentation twice,” says Tanya Springer. “[They were] gasping at each and every picture of a lake or sunset. They each had things they were most excited for. Pottery, swimming, sunrise canoe paddles … even sleeping in bunk beds.” Springer was presenting to two families of new Canadians,Continue reading “Welcome to Canada, Welcome to camp”

Mile Twelve’s “Onwards”

  Sam Bush once said that Bill Monroe was the ultimate feel player. It’s a backhanded compliment in a way, despite Bush’s clear reverence, because what he was saying was that Monroe lacked melodic precision, playing more to rhythm. He was the father of bluegrass, true, but he was no Mike Marshall or Chris Thile.Continue reading “Mile Twelve’s “Onwards””

Navigating the gap year

Neuchâtel Junior College (for OurKids.net) At its simplest, a gap year is a non-academic year between high school graduation and enrollment at university. It’s becoming more common, and more structured, though the vast majority of Canadian parents didn’t take a gap year. Because of that lack of first-person experience, misconceptions abound. The fear is thatContinue reading “Navigating the gap year”

Students praise LCS outdoor education program

By Glen Herbert for OurKids.net One of Betsy Macdonnell’s first glimpses of life at Lakefield College School was a grade 9 outdoor education class, one of the stops on her first tour of the campus. “I remember seeing how supportive they were with each other,” she says of the students, particularly in the case ofContinue reading “Students praise LCS outdoor education program”

Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur, “Penny’s Farm”

You’ll be forgiven if you groan a bit when you see the track listing of this new release from Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur, “Penny’s Farm.” Like right there. Did you breathe out a bit, an almost imperceptible sigh, just then when I typed “Penny’s Farm”? Did you have flashbacks of John Cohen talking aboutContinue reading “Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur, “Penny’s Farm””

Courtney Marie Andrews’ “Honest Life”

This is a brilliant release in all kinds of ways. Musicianship, arrangement, recording. Each one of those is wonderfully on display. It’s there in the details, such as the strings entering on “Only in My Mind,” and then the pizzicato, or the way she sings the word “Barcelona.” There are harmonies added to isolated phrasesContinue reading “Courtney Marie Andrews’ “Honest Life””

The Bankesters “Nightbird”

The Bankesters are a family band, and that fact–remember Cherryholmes?–can lead to a bit of head scratching. How? How is it possible that a family can all get together, each holding up his or her instrumental end of the bargain? But they do. Cherryholmes certainly did, and the Bankesters are coming up close to that.Continue reading “The Bankesters “Nightbird””

Making moonshine with Roger Lee “Buck” Nance

 by Glen Herbert “Listen,” says Nance. “It sounds like rain on a roof.” And it really does. Large vats line the room, each filled with a roiling mixture of grain and yeast. The gas being released as bubbles is responsible for the sound and the smell, which is somewhere between beer and bread and turpentine.Continue reading “Making moonshine with Roger Lee “Buck” Nance”

We’re here. Get used to it.

(for CBC Kids) Steve Colbert once said that stay-at-home dads are “against nature’s laws.” Your grandmother probably thinks that, too. The world that we know today is, of course, different than that of yesteryear. People don’t smoke in hospitals, and the moon is no longer a very interesting destination; it’s illegal to strike a dog,Continue reading “We’re here. Get used to it.”

Sam Bush’s, “Storyman”

(Published by Hudson Valley Bluegrass) Sam Bush is such a perennial of Americana music, from first gaining lots of attention with Newgrass Revival, going on to be the King of Telluride, and he’s just kept on going. Through it all, subtle is not something that anyone might readily claim of him, what with his mulletContinue reading “Sam Bush’s, “Storyman””

Arnie Naiman’s, “My Lucky Stars”

Published in Penguin Eggs, Issue #71, Fall 2016 You’ve got to love this album, and I’ll tell you why. Look at the liner notes. Each song lists the people that join Naiman, adding their stuff to his. Chris Coole’s there pretty much on every one. Love that. Naiman is credited on every track, less becauseContinue reading “Arnie Naiman’s, “My Lucky Stars””

Dave Pomfret’s, A Devil’s Urge

I’m forever being impressed with the level, variety, and quality of music coming out of Hamilton. The city doesn’t have the reputation of Cape Breton or Nashville, New Orleans or Muscle Shoals, and one reason might be because there isn’t just one genre of music being produced, but so many. So, too, that the bluesContinue reading “Dave Pomfret’s, A Devil’s Urge”

Martin Harley and Daniel Kimbro, “Live at Southern Ground”

  This isn’t a live album in the way that you think: it’s live in the sense of two musicians playing together, no overdubs or added tracks. There’s less audience noise than you’d expect from a live album, as in none at all. There’s more effect than we’d expect to hear on a live album,Continue reading “Martin Harley and Daniel Kimbro, “Live at Southern Ground””

Joe Ely, “Panhandle Rambler”

  The panhandle of the title is the Texan one, not the Floridian, and the album comprises a something of a tour of the writers and the styles that we associate with the singer/songwriter culture of Texas. All but two of the songs are written by Ely, though they reference many others, including Roy Orbison,Continue reading “Joe Ely, “Panhandle Rambler””