Sheldon Arvay and David Mikuliak first worked together as music educators at St. Francis Junior High School here in Lethbridge. Sheldon, an accomplished classical guitar player, would teach students about instrumental music and strings. David, a deep-voiced baritone singer, taught his young pupils about choral music, musical theatre studies, and dramatic arts. Sheldon plays guitar with several local music groups, both classical and pop, and the two are also members in a local six-piece rock and roll group.
Throughout their time teaching together, they had numerous occasions to collaborate, making music for the school's yearly celebrations. They had such a positive experience doing this, that the idea to record an album was born.
The result was 2007's Sing to the Child, a 12-track holiday album that includes arrangements of traditional folk songs and popular classical works. The compact disc includes two songs by Bach, a beautiful Rosetti poem put to music, an original composition by David, and a memorable version of a Mendelson/Guaraldi piece as first heard in the 1966 A Charlie Brown Christmas. Additional musicians provide guitar, flute, and percussion skills to make the album come alive.
Sheldon is responsible for the album's arrangement and production, and his wife Nikki provided the photography for its artwork.
Proceeds from the sales of this first album, which was a great joy for the pair to create, went directly back to the school's various music programs.
Fast forward to 2010, when the talented musical duo decided that the time was right to do it all over again. The pair has continued to teach and make music with various groups in varying genres, though they now work together at West Lethbridge's G.S. Lakie Middle School. Sheldon teaches classes on guitar/strings and rock and pop music, while David oversees courses on choral music and dramatic arts/musical theatre performance.
Their work with keen young learners on a daily basis has been an inspiration for the two musicians/educators. Working with students allows them to see the great merit in exposing students to the music making and recording process. Their regular collaborations in achieving learner outcomes and putting on school shows and concerts led to Christmas album number two–My Favourite Christmas Song.
While this album still makes use of Sheldon's skilled classical guitar and David's golden baritone, a dozen of their G.S. Lakie students sing on the 10 new tracks as well. This adds a whole new element to the arrangements, in their sweetly tender treble vocals.
This album, again arranged and produced by Sheldon, with cover art designed by his wife, features 10 tracks ranging from a full suite from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas to more obscure holiday fare like a Catalan folk song and a traditional Ukrainian bell carol. Two original works conceived by David appear as well, and two live tracks finish off the disc. David's two works, "Gloria" and "My Favourite Christmas Song," are now also entries in an on-line Christmas song competition, Have You Got the Next Holiday Classic, with ReverbNation.
Once again, all proceeds from sales of the second album will go back to the school, assisting more potential young artists in discovering their own talents and love for music.
"Our music making comes in many forms, but the real joy of making music comes in the community it creates," writes David in the liner notes. Sheldon adds his own personal touch, writing that, "After making many discs, some of the best times have been working on these last two Christmas projects."
Sing to the Child and My Favourite Christmas Song are available for purchase at Dove Christian Supplies and Long & McQuade.