You can see the happiness in their eyes. Early in September 2021, students at Oskāyak High School eagerly opened boxes containing 10 fiddles, thanks to the generosity of world-renowned musicians Natalie MacMaster and her husband, Donnell Leahy.
The gift seeds the new fiddle program at Oskāyak—currently an after-school program. Ted View, principal at Oskāyak, explained, “Our new program will focus on trad, western Canadian, Cape Breton, Quebecois, and Métis fiddle styles through a combination of ‘learning-by-ear’ and by reading music.”
While two students in the program are picking up the fiddle for the first time, seven students are continuing their musical journey that started at St. Michael Community School, where the Métis fiddle program got a boost years ago thanks to the gift of a class set of fiddles from, you guessed it, McMaster and Leahy. Three staff members are also looking to join the group.
“This gift of fiddle music will complement our school’s traditional drumming, singing, and dancing programs,” said View. “I would like to express a heartfelt thank you to Mrs. MacMaster and Mr. Leahy.”
View also extends thanks to Remenyi House of Music Ltd., who provided extra sets of strings, rosin, and spare parts. Lastly but not least, View thanks St Michael principal Cristin Dorgan-Lee who connected him with with MacMaster and Leahy.