With a steady hand Rob Hanson carefully signals to a choir of about 50 kindergarten and Grade 1 students from Cloverdale Traditional School.
They’re singing O Canada, and the recording will soon be part of a combined track with 26,000 elementary students from across the country.
Hanson is the only one to notice a boy whose volume is a few decibels too high, and tactfully motions for him to match the volume of the rest of the choir.
Hanson is leading the Flag of Canada project which will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the maple leaf flag with the largest recording of O Canada ever. It visits all 10 provinces and two of the territories.
“We recorded 270 voices at Cloverdale and 251 at Ruth King elementary school and now we’re off to Yellowknife and Whitehorse [this week],” Hanson said. “So far I’ve heard about 5,000 of the voices together and it’s pretty good.”
Hanson works for the Hometown Music non-profit, based in Whitby, Ont., that’s organizing the project, funded by the Ministry of Canadian Heritage.
Cloverdale music teacher Fiona Jones was thrilled to bring the program to her school. The 270 performing students were broken into four sessions, and most of a wall of the classroom (Cloverdale is using the Richmond elementary facility during seismic upgrades this year) was decorated in great detail to honour the maple leaf.
Grade 5 student Kaleb Manton was selected to represent the school with a one-minute monologue which he dedicated to the annual living flag of Victoria.
“I talked about what the living flag means to me and what it means to other people,” Manton said. “And how it went from about 300 people in 2006 to 2,100 people in 2010.”
All Canadian elementary school students and classes are encouraged to share their hometown and school pride by submitting a project – video, audio, visual arts/photography or written pieces – by Nov. 1 at flagofcanada.ca. It will be included in a digital yearbook. The galleries will form a historical collection to be shared with libraries across Canada.