‘Basically School of Rock:’ PACI forms first garage band class in division

Depredation lead singer, Rachel Bear, practices as part of her Garage Band 20 class on Jan. 21, 2020. It's the first garage band class to be offered in the Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

“The group is totally dependant on each other. It really teaches teamwork, dedication, commitment.”

A small group of students at Prince Albert Collegiate Institute (PACI) gather every afternoon during home room period. They strum their guitars and run their fingers across a keyboard, filling the school’s air with a soft sound—but that’s just the warmup.

That’s when you know it’s about to get real loud.

Six high school students have formed the band Depredation, which means “an act of attacking or plundering.”

It’s part of PACI’s Garage Band 20 class taught by Mike Mogg, the first in the Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division. Mogg said the idea was originally developed in Lloydminster, Alta.

“This class is basically School of Rock,” he said. Every day, they learn about creating and sustaining a professional rock band.

“It starts with picking some songs just to get the group used to playing together and then we move into things like self-promotion, marketing.”

Not only are the students learning how to come together seamlessly, they’re creating and posting on social media pages, printing their own tickets and performing for elementary school students.

This all leads up to their semester-end concert at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre, which is set for 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Mogg will be assessing them on how well they know the songs, their stage presence and the overall feeling of the show.

It’s not like a traditional music class, which Mogg also teaches. In those classes, he explained, students are working much more independently.

“You can start with basic skills and just go from there. We do a couple group projects, but this, the group is totally dependant on each other. It really teaches teamwork, dedication, commitment—really great skills to have.”

Rachel Bear, a grade 11 student, is Depredation’s lead singer.

She credits her music experience to Jam Street Sessions, which she joined when she was nine years old. She now teaches guitar there, describing that it’s like “teaching another language.”

Bear decided to bring her talent to the school scene.

“(Depredation has) gotten me to the point where I can be comfortable in school because this is my first year being at PACI, so I kind of broke out of my shell through this class and Mr. Mogg gave me a lot of confidence,” said Bear.

“This class is really, really special.”

It’s also enhanced many personality traits that Bear holds proudly. She said she’s more artistic, expressive, passionate, ambitious and energetic.

Bear said she slightly nervous, but mostly excited about the concert.

“Every time I sing, I always have an instrument with me, so that’s my grounding tool, whereas in some songs for Depredation I’m not holding an instrument and that’s a pretty new thing for me,” she explained.

“I’ve never been to a performance at the Rawlinson where it was just focused on…our band. I’ve been in (SaskTel) Search for the Stars and everything like that, but that’s more of a competition, whereas this is just focused on us and the music. It’s very liberating, but also kind of scary.”

For drummer Kolton Kimbley, those nerves are fuel.

“I always have these warmups and stuff that keep me on edge still, but right where I need to be to keep my momentum going because my nervousness is really what gets me through the show,” he said.

Kolton Kimbley, Depredation’s drummer, rehearses at Prince Albert Collegiate Institute (PACI) on Jan. 21, 2020. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

When the grade 12 student came to PACI, he joined a guitar class, which spiralled into taking more and more music classes with Mogg.

“He was the one who really told me to join this class and got me hyped up for it. Without a doubt, I said yes to it,” explained Kimbley.

“It doesn’t even feel like school…You just play music with your friends. It’s not like anything else.”

Bear said Depredation will continue to play together after Wednesday’s concert as an extra curricular activity and possibly put on a free concert in Kinsmen Park in the spring.

Tickets cost $15 at the Rawlinson Centre doors to see the band, which also consists of Keenan Janzen (guitar, bass, piano), Trey Joseph-Bear (guitar, bass, vocals), Kody Ahenakew (guitar, bass) and Seth Clarke (guitar, vocals).

Ultimately, Mogg hopes his students walk away with feelings of success and confidence.

“The arts are all about self expression. It’s therapeutic,” he said.

“It’s like teaching the whole student rather than just focusing on the academics.”