School of Groove offers a variety of workshops for any occasion, setting or age group. From school residencies to birthday parties to corporate events and team building workshops, students and participants will get hands on experience with professional musicians while learning a lot about the culture and origins of a particular tradition.



School of Groove is a Vancouver-based music program directed by Michelle Cormier. The main focus is on the musical cultures of Cuba, Brazil and South Africa, working with a variety of skill levels and age groups at any time to introduce the participants to a fun and informative approach to learning about music and other cultures. The programs can be presented as a weekly class, week long camp, one day workshop or any other format. Guest instructors may be introduced to present specific instruments or themes.

While the participants learn the physical skills to play repertoire on a variety of instruments, they learn about the role music plays in these cultures, how the music evolves in relationship to the social and political changes that take place and experience what is required to make music in a community setting. We also talk about how music gives cultures a distinct voice while linking groups of citizens to a common history.

Depending on the age group, we can get in to more or less detail. Younger age groups will learn how the music is a reflection of the community and is an activity meant to teach and promote the group’s culture and values. I engage the children in song, dance and percussion that describe parts of life in the community. Other instruments, such as guitar, are introduced to older elementary aged students and more challenging repertoire is learned.

For high school aged students, I will engage the participants in a historical journey of the development of musical traditions and how they have evolved in relationship to changing political, social and global environments. The students will learn all aspects of a piece of music, which may include guitar, hand drums like djembe or conga, other percussion and singing.

An example of repertoire covered would be something by Miriam Makeba, an important voice in South African history. She campaigned against the system of Apartheid and was subsequently exiled for her political point of view. We can talk about her musical career and how it was influenced by tradition, the introduction of European musical practices, the South African social and political situation throughout her life and her years in exile.

Another example could be from Brazil, by the groups Ilê Aiyê or Olodum. They are representatives of a very powerful political/artistic movement of the black community in Bahia, Brazil. Their songs aim to raise awareness of African and Afro-Brazilian culture and religion. They participate in Bahian Carnaval and gather large groups of people who join in singing and dancing along with them. The music itself combines African rhythm, Brazilian Samba and is sung in Portuguese.


If you are a school looking for some interesting programming for your students, you could be eligible for an Artstarts Grant. Please check out this link for more information:

Several workshops are planned for the 2018 – 2019 school year in Vancouver, Gabriola Island, Victoria and Guanajuato, Mexico.

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