A home-made clear shield wraps around her mobile music cart, allowing teacher Kanata Soranaka to provide close up instruction to students while keeping everyone safe. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

A home-made clear shield wraps around her mobile music cart, allowing teacher Kanata Soranaka to provide close up instruction to students while keeping everyone safe. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

Heroes in Education: Above Beyond

Langley teacher finds new ways to keep the music playing during COVID

Kanata Soranaka and her music cart a common sight around Belmont Elementary

If students couldn’t come to teacher Kanata Soranaka’s classroom, she’d bring the classroom to them.

Now Soranaka and her music cart are a common sight in the halls of Belmont Elementary as she stays connected musically with hundreds of students in 19 divisions.

The cart is a mobile office containing the technology, instruments and accessories she needs during the school day, including a home-made Plexiglas shield that allows students to be near her safely.

The cart is just one of the ways Soranaka, who has worked in the Langley School District since 2005, devised to outwit the coronavirus and keep students learning, and one factor in why the music teacher has been chosen as a Langley Advance Times Hero in Education.

“I’m really honoured that somebody nominated me,” Soranaka said, adding that she’s felt supported by the students, staff and broader community.

• EDUCATION: Walnut Grove Secondary students cover Pinkzebra music in final project

After teaching several years at Topham Elementary where she started a taiko drumming club and program and then the Yorkson Creek Middle School, she moved to Belmont after longtime beloved musical theatre teacher Jamie Thomas retired.

“When the pandemic hit and schools were closed down, Kanata began brainstorming ideas for connecting with her hundreds of students to keep them engaged and learning music,” said teacher Kelly Evans, who nominated her.

Soranaka, who is one of the members of Vancouver-based Sancho Taiko drumming group in her off hours, worked closely with teachers, adding materials, websites and activities to their individual virtual classrooms on many different platforms. She also developed a website entitled the ‘virtual music room’ where students and their families could visit to access music-related activities, recommendations for exciting opportunities to develop their music appreciation, sample many different styles of music and learn about innovative ways musicians and artists were reaching out to share their talents.

“She invited the children to rewrite and perform the school song with ‘COVID’ lyrics, to create music with instruments built from LEGO, and to try composing their own music,” Evans added.

• EDUCATION: New middle school names for Langley artist, middle school founder

Soranaka also contacted families to get permission to post students’ work and created a platform to share everyone’s creations so the children could feel connected to their school and with each other. But traditional school events such as spring concerts, Remembrance Day services, and Christmas concerts are not possible.

“I think there was a sense of loss” in terms of community celebrations and a sense of togetherness, she said.

So as the school year started in autumn, it became a priority to bring people together.

“I’m just trying to do the best I can to give a little bit of positivity in kids’ lives right now,” Soranaka said. “I think a lot of things are still challenging for many people and one way to try and support our school community is what we do in music.”

Not every student who has music in school ends up being the next Beethoven or the next Shawn Mendes but that’s not the point of music education. Some students may go into the arts but most people find they are consumers of music, not the ones who produce it. Still, music education has been found to also help students with other core academics, as well as teamwork, socialization and much more.

Principal Tim Bonnar, who teaches Grade 6 and 7 band, said Soranaka’s work with elementary school age children lays an important foundation so they appreciate people with musical talent such as Kanata Soranaka.

“Every kid has it [music] as a big part of their life without really thinking about it,” he explained.

Music also provides social context. Soranaka was instrumental in this year’s Remembrance Day ceremonies, which had to be adapted due to the pandemic.

“Our Remembrance Day assembly this year required much more foresight, preparation and technological skill, but she managed to bring our school together (despite not being able to come together physically) in a meaningful way.”

Bonnar said he’s grateful for the work of educators and school staff, such as Soranaka, because they didn’t resign themselves to helplessness when the pandemic hit. They’ve worked hard to find ways to continue to make a difference in the lives of students. And in the case of education hero Kanata Soranaka, that is music to his ears.

“At times like this, I think we still need to experience joy,” Bonnar said.

MORE EDUCATION HEROES

• Coach Chris Veale backs his players

.


Got a news tip?

Email: heather.colpitts@langleyadvancetimes.com
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Langley School District

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Teacher Kanata Soranaka started a taiko drumming club while at Topham Elementary. Based on its popularity, taiko drumming became part of the school’s music education. The students performed at school functions as well as sports tournaments and community events. (Topham Tora Taiko photo)

Teacher Kanata Soranaka started a taiko drumming club while at Topham Elementary. Based on its popularity, taiko drumming became part of the school’s music education. The students performed at school functions as well as sports tournaments and community events. (Topham Tora Taiko photo)

Just Posted

Crows gather at in the cottonwoods of Sandra Kidder’s neighbour in Aldergrove every winter morning just before sunrise. (Sandra Kidder/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
SHARE: Aldergrove cottonwoods hosts morning murder of crows

Send us your photo showing how you view Langley, and it could be featured in a future edition

When Langley City resident Dale Attrell, 92, seen here walking in Douglas Park on Saturday, Jan. 10, started a walking club for seniors, it filled up quickly. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
Outrunning COVID: a Langley City senior starts a walking club

When Dale Attrell launched a group for older people to go on walks together, it filled up quickly

Langley’s Jim Orlowski, a regular contributor to Through Your Lens, shared this picture of some bird swimming around in Brydon Lagoon. They were spotted while he was walking along the trail in the Nicomekl flood plains. They frequently cross paths with dozens of other walkers and park visitors enjoying the trail on a bright winter day. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
SHARE: Bird friends from Brydon

Send us your photo showing how you view Langley, and it could be featured in a future edition

Mark Chandler, outside of his extradition hearing at the Vancouver Supreme Court. (Langley Advance Times files)
Langley condo builder’s fraud sentencing in U.S. delayed due to COVID-19

Mark Chandler’s own lawyer contracted COVID-19 in December

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

sdf
Another Mission student arrested for assault, in 2nd case of in-school violence this week

RCMP notified of local Instagram page with videos (now deleted) showing student assaults, bullying

(Photo by Kevin Hill)
40 cases linked to Surrey Memorial Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

Fraser Health says two death are associated with the outbreak

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Most Read