McKenzie Elementary’s junior choir was excited to find out that they’d won first place in their category – $3,000 worth of instruments and a plaque – in the 2020 CBC Music Class Challenge with their medley performance. (Photos by Matt Schmitz)

McKenzie Elementary’s junior choir was excited to find out that they’d won first place in their category – $3,000 worth of instruments and a plaque – in the 2020 CBC Music Class Challenge with their medley performance. (Photos by Matt Schmitz)

VIDEO: Saanich students nab big prizes in CBC’s 2020 Canadian Music Class Challenge

McKenzie Elementary junior choir, Fraser Campbell Music School earn first place in their categories

Two groups of Saanich music students nabbed the top prizes in the CBC’s nationwide music challenge.

On Dec.16, CBC Music announced the winners of the 2020 Canadian Music Class Challenge and, out of thousands of submissions, the judges chose McKenzie Elementary’s junior choir and the Fraser Campbell Music School as the first-place winners in their categories.

Every year, entrants choose from a list of Canadian songs to perform for the contest, explained Fraser Campbell who runs a community music school in Saanich. Greater Victoria has always done well in the Music Class Challenge, he said, adding that past winners have included Cloverdale Traditional School and Arbutus Middle School.

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This year, Campbell and his students submitted videos in two categories. The group of 11 students ranging from Grades 5-8 performed live versions of the songs with some singing and others playing instruments.

In the Community Music Class category, the Fraser Campbell Music School nabbed first prize – $1,000 worth of new musical instruments and a plaque – for their rendition of Alessia Cara’s song “October”.

The judges noted that the lead vocalist had a “lovely” voice and commended the “outstanding rhythm section.”

“This is a pretty awesome honour as we were competing against music school across Canada,” Campbell said, adding that the students are already planning what they’ll perform next year.

The 23 Grade 3 students in the McKenzie Elementary junior choir were also excited to find out that they’d won first place in the Primary Vocal category – kindergarten to Grade 3 – with their medley of “Like a Flower to the Sun”/”Hold On”/”We’re all in This Together.”

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“Great, tuneful singing in this imaginative and safely distanced performance,” said the judges.

Music teacher and choir director Arlene Salido received the email announcing the winners and immediately told principal Joanna Snow who shared the news with the whole school. The choir won $3,000 worth of new musical instruments for the school and a plaque to commemorate the big win.

“It was super exciting,” Salido said, adding that this was the school’s third year entering the competition – the junior choir placed third in 2019.

“It definitely gives [the students] a reason to look forward to music time.”

The new instruments will benefit the whole school, she explained, because COVID-19 has created “big obstacles” for music teachers; instruments used by one cohort must be sanitized or left out for several days before the next class can use them. The music room itself must also sit empty after each lesson so Salido has taken her lessons to the students’ main classrooms.

“It’s been a very challenging semester … but I’m happy to put in a little more effort” to ensure music lessons continue, she said.


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