Inuvik music school offers helping hand to neighbouring communities

Music programs will be popping up in Aklavik, Fort McPherson and Paulatuk, thanks to Inuvik’s Western Arctic School of Music

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Students at Angik School in Paulatuk can find soon themselves sitting in a music classroom learning how to play an instrument, thanks to the help of Inuvik’s Western Arctic School of Music (WASM).

In addition to crafting the curriculum for Angik School’s new music program, WASM founder Glen Brake said he’ll also help to provide instructors and instruments.

Pretty much everything you need to start a music program, more culturally rather than the traditional in-school. There’s no recorders or anything,” Brake said. “This is more cultural to the North. I went this route because this is what the North is all about. Fiddles. It’s about guitars, piano. It’s about percussion, their native culture, which is the Inuvialuit hand drums.”

In total, Brake said that he’s sending up 15 of each of the following instruments: guitars, ukeleles, fiddles and hand drums. Also included are three digital pianos, as well as music stands and cases for the instruments.

Glen Brake, the founder of Inuvik’s Western Arctic School of Music, poses with instruments that he’ll be shipping out to Paulatuk’s Angik School. He’s also helping to set up similar music programs in communities such as Aklavik and Fort McPherson. Aaron Hemens/NNSL Photo
Glen Brake, the founder of Inuvik’s Western Arctic School of Music, poses with instruments that he’ll be shipping out to Paulatuk’s Angik School. He’s also helping to set up similar music programs in communities such as Aklavik and Fort McPherson. Aaron Hemens/NNSL Photo

It’ll probably start in May. Just get some things organized and probably start what they call a soft opening. It’s nothing rigid, just let the kids get a feel for what it is to have some instruments,” he said. “When they come back for the next school year, they’ll be full blown. They’ll be set up with curriculum and stuff like that.”

The end result, he continued, is to provide youth with the opportunity to play an instrument to help build self-confidence.

The music is just a stepping stone. The instrument is just a tool,” he said. “The person I’m more concerned about. What is this going to do to the individual? To me, it’s always about people first.”

Brake said that he’s also working with residents in Aklavik and Fort McPherson to help launch similar programs in their communities.

Right now, I’m working with a gentleman in (Fort) McPherson who works at the Aurora College who is wanting to set up a program there. There’s also a gal there from the justice committee. Both of them just applied for grants,” he said. “They want to deal with young offenders, but they also want to do the school and everyone in the community. The three of us will work together to make this happen.”

As for Aklavik, he added that the community is deciding whether to make their music program exclusive to Moose Kerr School, or if they want to open it up to the public.

My goal is to see every community have something. Sachs Harbour, Tuk and a few other little communities. I can network with people and bring it together to make it happen,” he said.

By helping to bring music to these three settlements, Brake said that he hopes he can strengthen their sense of community.

Music has gotten a lot of people out of trouble in a way that other stuff can’t. Music touches your soul. It goes deeper than your head, right deep inside,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what culture or who you are, it transcends all that.”

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