The Special Consensus, “Chicago Barn Dance”

“The good thing about playing music,” says Greg Cahill, “is that you feel good a lot of the time, because you get to play music, and make a lot of great friends, and meet a lot of nice, really good people.” Cahill founded The Special Consensus in 1975, and if there is a guiding principleContinue reading “The Special Consensus, “Chicago Barn Dance””

What is it like to be Jamell Ollivierre?

What is it like to be Jamell Ollivierre? I can’t answer that question, of course—certainly we can’t really know what it’s like to be anyone other than who we are—though the outlines are there. I met with him one morning at the patio of Keegan’s in Lower Bay, just off the beach, the waves rollingContinue reading “What is it like to be Jamell Ollivierre?”

History, fireworks, and sound

Since 1991, the International Fireworks Competition in Hanover, Germany, has been one of the most distinctive festivals in the region. For five nights each summer, teams of world-class pyrotechnicians arrive from around the globe to mount displays against a rich musical background, hosted on the grounds of an important cultural and historical site. One ofContinue reading “History, fireworks, and sound”

Live your passion!

“I think my first instructor was confused the first time I went for a lesson,” says Katie Drysdale, who began guitar lessons nearly two years ago. “He called my name and I responded. Maybe he thought the name ‘Katie’ was a young person’s name. Mind you, he looked about 12 years old.” Katie was 87. Continue reading “Live your passion!”

Building a better school

“It’s wonderfully constructed,” says Sugata Mitra. “It’s just that we don’t need it anymore.” Mitra is a professor of educational technology at Newcastle University, best known for his “Hole in the Wall” experiment, which he discussed in a wildly popular TED talk. He was addressing an idea that comes up from time to time, that educationContinue reading “Building a better school”

Natalie MacMaster, “Sketches”

Natalie MacMaster is one of those artists that is described from time to time as a national treasure. She is that, but she’s a local treasure, too. There’s a video online of her going to play at Glencoe Mills Hall on Cape Breton with Bela Fleck in tow. The music, of course, is fantastic, thoughContinue reading “Natalie MacMaster, “Sketches””

The right sound for the right space

When PS.SPEICHER decided to augment their signature collection with a signature venue, they needed a sound system that reflected the growing reputation of their brand. They found it in Kling and Freitag’s VIDA speaker system. PS.SPEICHER, a museum in Einbeck, Germany, is home to the world’s largest collection of German motorcycles—from a Hildebrand & Wolfmüller,Continue reading “The right sound for the right space”

The long journey of Doc Watson

(KDHX) It’s perhaps easy to underestimate the impact that Doc Watson has had over the course of his career, in part because of the ways we choose to express it. We like superlatives—first, longest, fastest, best. He’s credited as the first to play fiddle tunes on guitar, and certainly he’s been influential in that regard,Continue reading “The long journey of Doc Watson”

The most beneficial aspect of therapy isn’t a thing, but a relationship

For Athletix and Beauchamp Fitness “People are always asking how it is different from a TENS machine,” says Michael Montoya. As a professional who works daily with neuromuscular stimulation, that can admittedly be a bit frustrating. Certainly Dr. Michael Ho—who markets a device known generically Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)—commands a disproportionate amount of attentionContinue reading “The most beneficial aspect of therapy isn’t a thing, but a relationship”

Gee’s Bend Quilters, “Boykin, Alabama: Sacred Spirituals of Gee’s Bend”

For Penguin Eggs Everything about this album is an absolute, unqualified, unbridled delight. It’s four women who live in Boykin, Alabama, and take part in a quilting tradition that began in the 19th century. They sing while they quilt, and the songs are polished just as the needles are, through endless passes through the fabricContinue reading “Gee’s Bend Quilters, “Boykin, Alabama: Sacred Spirituals of Gee’s Bend””

Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen, “If You Can’t Stand the Heat”

For Penguin Eggs Frank Solivan spent much of his youth in Alaska, which perhaps accounts for his range of talents. He is a hunter, a fisherman, a poet. He plays guitar, violin, and mandolin. He writes songs, sings, and is the leader of Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen, the IBMA band of the year inContinue reading “Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen, “If You Can’t Stand the Heat””

Behind the scenes at the museum

Playing and learning within Toronto’s foremost cultural and scientific institutions For Our Kids Media “Maybe some children have overdosed on simulations on their computers at home and just want to see something solid — a fact of life,” says paleontologist Richart Fortey.  “Maybe a museum should be the place to have an encounter with the bonyContinue reading “Behind the scenes at the museum”

Why do we go to school?

The best reasons aren’t always the ones you think of first by Glen Herbert “It’s very Harry Potter,” says Michael Simmonds, chuckling a bit as he does. I was speaking to him about what Havergal College does best, a school in Toronto where he is vice principal. Havergal is one of the foremost girls’ schoolsContinue reading “Why do we go to school?”

What makes a great teacher great?

What should parents be looking for in educators? Beth Alexander, a primary and elementary instructor at The Linden School, is a teacher that a lot of people think is great, including the prime minister. In 2017, she received the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence, and this year she was the first Canadian educator to earn a Lowell Milken CentreContinue reading “What makes a great teacher great?”

How do you change the world?

Lynn Zimmer did it with a note on message board, a lot of hard work, and a sense of hope in human beings and their capabilities “I’m very practical,” says Lynn Zimmer. “I’d reached the point where I just felt very tired of having to be angry about everything all the time. I was lookingContinue reading “How do you change the world?”

Camping on campus

Summer camps hosted by some of the best universities in North America for Our Kids Media Camp is about environments: allowing kids to access new ones, to engage with new communities of people, and to enter new communities of interest. In some instances, that’s the university environment. For many campers, sessions hosted on campus offer theContinue reading “Camping on campus”

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”

Growing up in a changing world

Now more than ever, kids need camp by Glen Herbert for Our Kids    Up until the mid-1960s, a typical day at Camp Wanakita began as it always had: with a compulsory, camp-wide skinny dip. The camp was still all-boys, and modesty clearly wasn’t at a premium: the campers needed to be clean and, withoutContinue reading “Growing up in a changing world”

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””