Peabody Award winning broadcaster Jowi Taylor is the creator of the Six String Nation project, centred around a an acoustic guitar literally built from pieces of history and heritage reflecting different cultures, communities, characters and events from every province and territory of Canada. As an object it opens multiple windows into the complexities of the Canadian story and Canadian identity. As a working instrument, it invites diverse voices and perspectives to take their place on centre stage. As an idea, it inspires a vision of Canada that is as open and as world leading as we aspire to be in a fracturing world.
All of these strands come together in Taylor’s compelling, entertaining and educational multimedia presentation. Weaving video, audio and extraordinary photography with his own experience of struggling to see a quixotic and multi-faceted project to completion and sharing it with audiences across Canada and beyond, Taylor takes audiences on a fascinating and emotional journey across vast Canadian landscapes to the heart of what it means to be Canadian from a thousand and one points of view. It’s the story of Canada as you’ve never heard it - or held it - before. It connects to curriculum and inspires study, it reveals common bonds in diverse communities and brings abstract ideas about nationhood and belonging to the most local and personal experience. Perhaps not surprisingly, this is a guitar that truly resonates on many levels. To encounter it is to become a citizen of the Six String Nation.
Soon after the debut of Voyageur in 2006, teachers, students and parents began requesting that we bring the project to their schools as a great way to explore Canadian history, geography, diversity and music. Since then, we’ve given the presentation in all kinds of educational settings from grade school, middle school and high school assemblies right through to graduate student seminars, ESL classes, parent-teacher gatherings and professional development workshops and conferences for teachers in many parts of Canada. We’ve presented to school groups as part of visits to the National Music Centre in Calgary, Massey Hall and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and other institutional settings. We’ve helped to design a Collaborative Learning Resource package for the Ontario Ministry of Education’s Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat and we were even asked to create a semester- long Canadian Studies course based on the project for George Brown College in Toronto. While we have developed a special short presentation for very young children from JK to grade 3 or 4, in terms of educational impact the project is best suited to students grade 4-12 for whom many of the issues and topic areas presented in the guitar are emerging within the curriculum (this varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction). In Ontario, the presentation connects with the following strands in the curriculum:
Social Studies: People and Environments: Political and Physical Regions of Canada
Social Studies: Interactions Between Indigenous and European Peoples Grade 6 Social Studies: Heritage and Identity: Communities in Canada Past and Present
The Arts (specifically Drama, Music): Reflecting, Responding, Analyzing – The Critical Analysis Process; Exploring Forms and Cultural Contexts