Sistema New Brunswick teaching artist Swan Serna, right, teaches a class of students at a week-long Iqaluit music camp. He and fellow teaching artist Dulce Alarcon instructed at the camp last week.
Sarah Seeley | TIMES & TRANSCRIPT -- Tuesday, August 27, 2019
Sistema teaching artist Swan Serna enjoys showing students how to play instruments and this past week he took his music skills up north to an Iqaluit music camp.
Serna, who is the director for the Richibucto and Elsipogtog Sistema centres, and Dulce Alarcon, a Sistema teaching artist and conductor of the Richibucto orchestra, were invited to teach at the week-long camp organized by the Iqaluit Music Society.
Ken MacLeod, CEO of the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra and director of the New Brunswick Sistema program, said he has been in contact with music society president Darlene Nuqingaq since 2010 when New Brunswick hosted a Sistema conference.
The camp where Serna and Alarcon were teaching has been running for close to 25 years and this year there were 160 campers, said MacLeod, adding he was thrilled his staff got an opportunity to instruct in another province.
Serna said he gave violin lessons while at the day camp. Some students had experience with the instrument and others had never tried it before.
“The kids wanted to learn as much as possible," he said. “They were always ready to do their best.”
Campers had the opportunity to try a variety of instruments, including guitar and drums. They also got to learn choral techniques and throat singing, an Inuit traditional style of singing that imitates nature sounds, said Serna.
Nuqingaq and the Iqaluit Music Society have been in the process of getting a Sistema-inspired program in Nunavut and often turns to Sistema New Brunswick with questions, said MacLeod.
“There just wasn't much opportunity for children to play music," he said.
This is not the first time the province's Sistema program has played a consulting role to national and international organizations looking to adopt a Sistema model.
Now in its 10th year, Sistema New Brunswick has grown from 50 children to more than 1,100 students in 10 locations around the province.
"Since Sistema started, we opened our doors and shared freely with others what we are learning," said MacLeod.
MacLeod said Sistema New Brunswick and the Iqaluit Music Society are discussing a student music exchange between the two provinces.
“We think there’s great value in that. It’s helping to build relationships across miles," he said.
While in Iqaluit, Serna was immersed in the Inuit culture. He saw the northern lights and tried the traditional dishes, which included raw meat. He also saw Inuit stone and bone artwork and listened to the cultural songs and drumming.