Buzz about drones – the aural kind – gets kids excited about learning – Owen Sound Sun Times

In a bid to jolt some life into his pandemic online classes, Flesherton music teacher Charlie Glasspool found inspiration in the weirdest of places.
For those who missed it, Saturday was International Drone Day. The Macphail Memorial Elementary School teacher knew of it, thanks to his friend, fellow musician and Mudtown Records founder Josh Richardson.
Think bagpipes, distant factory sounds and maybe tinnitus? Sounds you’d think make for an underwhelming jolt of excitement.
But you’d be wrong there. Thinking about droning was enough to send a buzz through some 100 grade 4 to 8 students. They headed out to record them and came back with more than 100 sounds.
Glasspool handed them over to Richardson, who took some, blended them and produced Young Drones: Volume One — A Collection of Noises, by the Macphail Music Program.
An electric toothbrush, sustained organ and piano notes, the sound of welding, running taps and showers and flushing toilets are a few of the sounds that  may be heard on the 12 tracks. Part of the fun of listening is discerning what made each sound, Glasspool said.
In return for a free download of it , people are asked to donate to the class’s Heart of a Tiger fundraising campaign for cardiac-care equipment for Markdale hospital.
Glasspool admits he seized on the musical concept of the drone in early May as he groped for ideas to keep his students interested. The pandemic has relegated students to behind computer screens for about one-quarter of the school year.
They talked about bagpipes and the sitar, music the class listened to. One student during the second wave built a hurdy-gurdy — a stringed instrument with a crank which produces drone tones, so they discussed that, as they did about the Australian Aboriginal didgeridoo wind instrument. They discussed mechanical and natural sounds too.
“Bigger philosophical questions were asked—do we exist in a constant drone of sound/s? Is silence, or freedom from noise, possible? Virtual debates ensued—how is a drone different than other musical concepts like ostinato or pedal point? High school/university music stuff here!” Glasspool’s album notes say.
“It kind of rejuvenated things a little bit in the music program,” he said. “To be frank, we were starting to lose a little bit of steam. I think there’s just sort of a general screen and pandemic exhaustion at this point.”
He hopes his students may return to class before the end of the school year. The premier has promised an announcement soon, his science advisory table has recommended it and so has Grey-Bruce’s local medical officer of health.
“Going back into the building would give us a little shot in the arm, if you would forgive my pun, I guess. Grad at Macphail is such a huge deal normally and we won’t be able to do a grad like we normally pull off.
“But even just to see those Grade 8s in person to do a proper farewell and some kind of ceremony in person. The screen thing, I guess it’s just not for me. And I don’t think it’s for a lot of people, educators and students both.”
Centre Grey hospital in Markdale is fundraising for new defibrillators, which will be purchased in the next few months, said Darlene Lamberti, executive director of Centre Grey Health Services Foundation.
She said the community appreciates Glasspool’s efforts and the students’ work on their latest project. Last year around this time they released a concert band album which raised money for iPads for virtual patient visits at Markdale hospital.
“I think what they are learning from this experience — showing how philanthropy can help an entire community, how music can help an entire community — I think it’s just fantastic,” Lamberti said.
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