Day 4: Juno Award Winner Makes Album with Her Grade 1 Class

"It really enforced the idea of what is important as a teacher - building relationships with kids and inspiring them to do things that make them feel important and creative."

It’s official, after 10 fast and furious Februaries, the NL RPM Challenge has produced more than 1000 local albums. This year, about 130 local albums were written and recorded in the month of February, and every weekday for the rest of the month the Editor of the Overcast will haphazardly select and feature one, which will merely skim the surface of what was released. See the full list here. feel free to fire along some fun facts about yours to chad@theovercast.ca (with the understanding this series can only cover 17-18% of albums released).

Day 4: Les Noceurs’ Fancy Pants

Known as Mme. Winter to her grade 1 class, or part of the Juno Award-winning local group The Swinging Belles to the rest of us, Laura Winter is no stranger to the RPM challenge, having recorded a few with her old band, The Dilettantes. But this year, her band was her grade 1 class.

Here’s the big hit off the album, as far as the band is concerned. “They LOVE singing it,” Laura says.

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Officially, they go by Les Noceurs, which, if you don’t have your French-English dictionary handy, means The Revellers.

“We had originally talked about The Party Animals as the name,” Laura says, “but I decided we should have a French title, as most of the songs are in French. And they’re a pretty enthusiastic group of young musicians – they cheer after every song.”

“I’ve always wanted to have this experience with my class,” the RPM junky says of her latest RPM. “I’ve made 3 RPMs with The Dilettantes, and the Swinging Belles started as an RPM idea, based on songs Erin and I wrote for our students over the years. We’d often share them when we sat down around the kitchen table to work on songs for The Dilettantes albums and that turned into an idea for a kids’ album. Actually writing and recording with kids has always been something I’ve wanted to do.”

Nothing’s ever easy though, no matter how many bandmates you’ve worked with, or how many environments you’ve recorded in.”The biggest challenge was the actual recording,” she says. “Bishop Feild is such a beautiful old building. My classroom has high ceilings and large windows and hardwood floors. It’s incredible aesthetically, for someone who dreams of teaching at Hogwarts, but not so great for recording music.”

She says Les Noceurs had but one day to use the music room — “our gracious music teacher taught out of my classroom that day” — and the rest of the school supported the whole project by not making any school-wide announcements over the PA, and by being extra quiet in the downstairs corridors.

“And I was lucky enough to have John Duff (of the Idlers), who is a class parent, to research and organize the recording equipment and spend the day working with us.”

It was worth it, obviously, for her, the students, and their beaming parents. “In addition to witnessing the joy and enthusiasm of my students, I got to work with such great class parents/musicians to bring the project to fruition. We had Colleen Power, Emily Hunt, and John Duff all come and lend their talent to the album.”

Apprently, there was so much enthusiasm from other parents, about getting involved, that they’re already talking about writing more songs and recording another album later in the Spring.

The kids also did some artwork for the album. “Inside the cover, there’s a self-portrait of each child. They drew themselves and then added an animal costume to their drawing. Seeing them with the album in hand to take home last Friday actually brought tears to my eyes. It really enforced the idea of what is important as a teacher – building relationships with kids and inspiring them to do things that make them feel important and creative.”

There’s talk of a live performance of the whole album in a couple of weeks at their school, Bishop Feild, so their families can come hear them.

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