A group of Winnipeg junior high students can now call themselves songwriters.
The Winnipeg Folk Festival’s Musical Mentors Program pairs professional local musicians with junior high and high school students to explore the craft of music-making.
For eight weeks, students from Hugh John Macdonald and General Wolfe worked with Keri Latimer of Nathan Music Co. and Rusty Matyas of Imaginary Cities to write, perform and record an original song.
The students finished recording their songs, which will appear on a Musical Mentors compilation CD, at Broadway Neighbourhood Centre’s Just TV studio on May 9 and 13.
"This one was interesting, because I’ve done a few sessions and this particular group was all girls, which was kind of nice because they didn’t get shy around each other," Latimer said.
"Everyone was a bit freer to get creative. We had a really good time and they had a lot of good ideas."
Latimer said she usually starts with a brainstorming session, and with her students this time around being junior high girls, their minds were fairly focused on one thing.
"They’re thinking about boys a lot, so we wrote a song about having a crush on somebody and how clumsy you get," Latimer said. "It’s called Falling in Love and it’s about a girl and a boy who are tripping over things when they see each other."
The Musical Mentors Program has been in place since 2010, with sessions in the fall and spring. This past session started in March and also featured students from Churchill High School, Elmwood High School, Daniel McIntyre Collegiate, Isaac Newton School and David Livingstone Community School.
In addition to Latimer and Matyas, the students were mentored by Winnipeg musicians Sheena Grobb, Vanessa Kuzina of Oh My Darling, Julie Penner and Jason Tait of The Weakerthans.
Morgan Hamill, artistic co-ordinator at the Folk Festival, said the students are chosen by their respective schools.
"Some of the schools will pick them based on their musical interests and some schools will pick them based on their need for expression or a program that might help keep them in school," Hamill said.
"It varies from group to group. For some of the kids who have an interest in playing music, it’s an opportunity for them to explore songwriting and music-making in general and take it a little bit further than they already have. For the others, its ultimately about expression and just being creative and having something to look forward to."
Latimer said it’s important for young people to have mentors in their lives they can look to.
"When you’re young and an older, experienced person takes an interest and gives you some pointers, that can stick with you for a long time and encourage you," Latimer said.