Wikwemikong students work with Canada’s top recording artists through new innovative music business program

Juno award nominee Tom Barlow works along side Coalition Music staff to deliver a workshop on song writing to the music

WIKWEMIKONG—Wikwemikong High School students having again been working with and learning from some of Canada’s chart topping recording artists through the school’s music business course in conjunction with Coalition Music—a management company from Toronto with famous clients such as Simple Plan and Our Lady Peace.

The program, which was launched last year at Wikwemikong High School, focusses on teaching students how to compose and write music, record, advertise and market themselves as artists.

Wikwemikong High School is not only the first school outside of Toronto to run the program, but also the first aboriginal school to offer the course.

“The music business (program) is a Grade 12 inter-disciplinary high school credit course that is offered by Coalition Music,” explained Rebecca Harrison, Coalition Music programs manager. “Through the music business course, Coalition Music addresses a great void that exists between the talented young musician and their ability to actually build a career as an artist or music industry professional.”


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“Working closely with students and high schools, our mission, through education, is to bridge this gap via experiential business learning and mentoring that is inclusive, accessible and at no cost to students or schools,” continued Ms. Harrison. “Students are instructed in a wide variety of disciplines relevant to both the business and creative components of the music industry—from finance and business structures, to songwriting, performance, promotion and branding, students are given a 360 degree introduction to the music industry and are coached on how to succeed within it.”

Locally, the program is delivered by Wikwemikong High School teacher Jason Thibault and musician Pat Peltier, with Coalition Music representatives visiting monthly to lead workshops and bringing with them celebrity guests such as multiple Juno Award nominee and Canadian Rising Star Award recipient Tom Barlow last month (known for his 2003 hit ‘Walk Away’).

During Mr. Barlow’s visit to Wikwemikong in February he, along with Coalition Music co-founder Rob Lanni, led a workshop with the music business students on careers in the music business and the history of music, as well as a workshop on songwriting.

Mr. Barlow also delivered a presentation to the entire school on ‘The Music Business Entrepreneur,’ discussing how being an artist really means being an entrepreneur or small business owner and career options in the music industry.

Throughout the course students will continue to work with industry leaders, eventually writing a song which they will then have the opportunity to record at Coalition Music’s Toronto studio, alongside professional producers and engineers.

“By giving students the opportunity to apply the knowledge they have gathered through the course in a professional environment, the course ensures that they are making connections between in-school education and real-world application,” explained Ms. Harrison.

Coalition Music will be visiting Wikwemikong High School again next week, bringing with them USS (Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker)—‘Yin Yang’ and ‘This is The Best’—along with Sean Kelly of the Canadian rock band Helix and guitarist for Nelly Furtado.

“USS is a perfect example of a ‘do-it-yourself’ band,” said Ms. Harrison. “They are entrepreneurs and built their career to what it is today. In addition to working with the music business students, they will also be doing a school-wide concert.”

See next week’s Expositor for an update on USS’ visit to Wikwemikong.