By Michael Christianson
Tim Cofield is no stranger to the north. Although the musician lives in Tennessee his roots are planted here. So when the opportunity arose to share the gift of music with those living in some of the most remote communities, Cofield and company answered the call.
Through the Tennessee Center for Civic Learning and Engagement (TCCLE) Cofield received Fender guitars as an educational donation because, as Cofield will attest, children who study music do better in other subjects such as science and math.
The musician had been up north before almost a decade ago to put on guitar workshops and the response was so great he knew that the guitars would have a new life in the hands of enthusiastic students.
“Out of all the things we could have done with these guitars, it was just a no brainer; I wanted to take them up north,” said Cofield. “I just knew how much that would mean to the communities because I really believe music is a healing tool. I’ve seen a kid who really had nothing to live for pick up a guitar and nine years later he is a singer/songwriter that everyone in the north knows, inspiring other people with his songs. I’ve seen what music can do in a kid’s life and it’s my biography too, music saved my life; I was not doing very well as a young teenager and music was my connection to everyone I ever made a relationship with and it changed my life.”
Seven of the guitars now live in Muskrat Dam Lake First Nation and another seven are in Mishkeegogamang First Nation.
Cofield, who was born and raised in Dryden, brought along fellow musician Tim McNary and Ben Nordeen. The events were organized by Rick and Linda Martin who also helped him to deliver guitar workshops the last time he was in the area.
“We flew up on a little five-seater plane, which is an adventure in itself, with a bush pilot, it was a charter, a man who believed in what we were doing wanted to help us. We arrived and the community was very opening, the embraced us with open arms, they fed us, they put us up in a cabin, they took very good care of us.”
Over the weekend they delivered five workshops, some of them kids and adults who had never picked up a guitar, and showed them the fundamentals of the instrument.
Cofield plans to make a documentary about his trip which he hopes will raise more money, and awareness, for programs similar to the northern guitar workshops.