Saskatchewan children have the chance to take virtual singing and dancing lessons through Sing Like A STAR, a music school founded by award-winning artist Amy Nelson.
The classes are drop-in and provided both during the day and in the evenings through Zoom. They’re currently scheduled to take place until the end of June, but may be extended into the summer.
Nelson said it was important to not only help parents keep their children busy, but also to guide them in expressing their creativity.
“Right now, parents are doing a great job of homeschooling , but most parents wouldn’t know how to also incorporate art,” she said.
“People don’t realize how important it is until it’s gone.”
The virtual classes offered include singing for children in Grades 1 to 8, taught by Nelson, dancing for children ages three to five and Grades 1 to 6, taught by singer and dancer Kelsey Howatt, and singing/storytime for children’s ages three to five, taught by early childhood educator Carlie Kuz.
For singing specifically, said Nelson, the virtual format may help students break out of their shells.
“They’re singing at their own home. Depending on the size of the group, some kids, if they want to, I’ll ask them to sing by themselves, but other than that they can have their screens on me so it’s a little less scary for some of the ones that are shy because then they don’t have to worry about other people hearing them sing,” she said.
The classes will be similar to those taught in-person. Using hit songs on the radio, she pinpoints different skills in every class. These include diction, the pronunciation of different words, and proper breathing.
“(I’ll use) some listening examples of how the singer on the radio does it and here’s some options that you can try at home and see which one you like best in your own voice,” explained Nelson.
Parents are asked to pay what they can for the classes, whether it’s nothing or the average donation of $8 per class. Nelson said she wanted to make them as accessible as possible throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Offering virtual classes is also beneficial because they’re available to children across the province, not just at the Sing Like A STAR locations in Regina, Saskatoon, White City and Moose Jaw.
Although Nelson is based in Regina, she often to travels to Prince Albert for the Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division’s Dream Brokers program, part of its summer music camps.
Just like the usual in-person classes, Nelson hopes the virtual ones boost confidence and give the students the opportunity to bond with others their own age.
“But the bigger objective for me right now is to make sure that they’re not lacking arts during this time,” emphasized Nelson.
Sing Like A STAR was founded in 2011, starting off with 44 students solely taught by Nelson. Now, the music school consists of 12 instructors and a part-time administrator across its four locations.
Nelson hopes to foster engagement in the arts using popular artists and bands such as Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and Imagine Dragons.
Regular programming at Sing Like A STAR includes not just singing, but piano, ukulele, guitar, bass and songwriting, offered in both one-on-one and group classes.
To sign up for the virtual, pay what you can classes, visit www.singlikeastar.ca.