Mount Baker students had a rare chance this week to have a writer-in-residence set up at the school. Canadian author Glenn Dixon spent the week mentoring a group of Grade 10 writing students each day. Over the week Dixon also did presentations to other classes and held workshops for teachers talking about the reasons humans make music.
During Wednesday’s class, Dixon began the presentation talking about a bone flute that was unearthed which dates back to 42,000 BC.
“That’s the oldest known instrument,” he said. “And you can hear what it sounds like. It’s a haunting sound.”
Dixon was working with one specific English class most of this week.
“That is a little bit more about the writing techniques, the writing process, that kind of stuff,” Dixon said.
He was also working with Social Studies classes on the more cultural aspect of his work. Dixon travelled to 19 countries, most in the past three years, for his recent book “Tripping the World Fantastic”.
The book, which is his second, is about music around the world.
Dixon travelled the planet to look at the reasons why people make music and how they do it.
He toured Bob Marley’s house in Jamaica, listened to drums in Africa and took sitar lessons in India.
“I play guitar so I thought sitar would be easy, but it’s really hard,” Dixon said. He was inspired by George Harrison of the Beatles for that experience.
Everywhere he went people made music in one way or another. In Vienna he studied what makes a musical genius. In Ireland he happened upon a woman playing a Celtic-style harp on the cliffs.
One topic in the book is the songs that humpback whales sing.
“There are several humpback whale populations around the world and each one has a different song,” he said. “Which is pretty cool.”
The writer post is part of the Vancouver Writers Fest “Spreading the Word” program which offers a chance for communities that can’t attend the festival because of geographic or economic reasons to take part by sending a Canadian author to spend a week there.
Ilona Beiks, education coordinator for the Vancouver Writers Fest, said the program gives students a chance to work with authors. Last year’s selected writer went to Haida Gwaii.
Beiks said Dixon is the first non-fiction author that they have chosen for the program.
The writer in residence program is sponsored by Amazon and supported by the Writers Fest’s Michael R. Shaw Fund.