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Artists at school


Monique Jutras

Performing arts


Monique Jutras

Singer, musician, ethnologist and specialist of “mouth-music” (la "turlute"), Monique Jutras has been performing Québec traditional music and songs for close to 30 years in Québec, in Canada and abroad in a variety of contexts: concert halls, festivals, universities, schools. Her in-depth knowledge of Québec's folklore (Master's degree from Laval University in 1991), her skills as a musician (she plays guitar, harmonica, Jew's harp, bones, spoons, feet, accordion, etc... ) and her ability to communicate with audiences of all origins and every generation makes her a very good ambassador of the French traditional culture of Québec. She is particularly aware of the importance of transmitting her passion for folklore to young audiences, for whom she has been performing all across Québec and Canada for 15 years with her “Chantons et turlutons” material (including a compact disk, a book and a workshop).

Proposed approach and type of activities

The aim of the workshop is to help students obtain a better knowledge of Québec French traditional music and songs, as well as their origins. Depending on the age of the students, different subjects related to music, history, geography, literature or ethnology will be examined in order to illustrate the transmission of songs and music through time and space. The workshop includes interactions with students in order to go through their own knowledge of folklore and traditional practices. If possible (but not obligatory), students will already have received a short preparation from their teachers (Monique Jutras will send a Study Guide in advance), which will allow students to identify different traditional practices (songs, music, dances, stories, games, crafts, food, clothing, etc...). Interactions will include theoretical explanations as well as demonstrations of different typical traditional instruments: harmonica, feet, spoons, bones, Jew's harp, accordion, Stepping Guy (a little wooden puppet dancing on a special bouncing paddle). A few answering songs will be taught taking into account the age of the groups.

Students will also experiment “mouth-music” ("turlute"), a typical traditional practice which consists of singing onomatopoeias to imitate the fiddle playing. Basic techniques for playing spoons will also be taught, and everyone will have the opportunity to handle a pair of wooden spoons to accompany a "turlute". For secondary students, the workshop will be similar, but the repertory will be more varied including answering songs, medieval ballads, repertory of Madame Bolduc (the first folksinger of French Canada during the Great Depression) and other types of songs in order to highlight the history and culture of French Québec. Theoretical explanations will be more consistent in terms of history, literature and ethnology, taking into account the skills of every group of age.

Examples of activities

Interactions will take place with students answering the artist's questions regarding their own knowledge of Québec folklore (acquired within the context of their family or social life, their music experiences, the image they have of folklore).

- Transmission of some theoretical notions regarding folklore (content will be adapted according to the age of the groups):

  • cultural practices transmitted by word of mouth, from generation to generation;
  • songs and music from unknown authors;
  • dates of composition unknown;
  • relations between dance and music;
  • the continuity of folklore, from yesterday to today;
  • the multiplication of different versions of the same song, through time and space;
  • the different styles of traditional songs (for secondary only);
  • the poetry contained in songs (for secondary only);
  • the role of songs through history (for secondary only);
  • the circulation of songs through France and America (for secondary only);
  • the transformation of songs according to the cultural contexts (for secondary only).

- Learning 2 or 3 answering songs (with easy choruses).

- Learning a dancing or “moving” song (for elementary only).

- Demonstration of the most typical traditional instruments used in Québec folklore, using a few traditional songs and reels as support:

  • harmonica;
  • spoons;
  • feet;
  • bones;
  • jew's harp;
  • accordion;
  • wooden Stepping guy (to illustrate step dancing);
  • mouth-music (to illustrate the importance of the fiddle and imitate its sound).

- Learning basic techniques for mouth-music (turlutes)

- Learning basic techniques to play spoons (holding spoons and rhythm)

- Performing together an answering song including a chorus with mouth-music and accompaniment with spoons (12 wooden spoons are available so that everyone has the opportunity to play during the song).

Special conditions

A room for the whole day with the possibility of leaving all music instruments and material during lunch hour.

The room should be :

Clean :   to allow students to sit directly on the floor (no mattresses please)

Spacious :  to allow students  to move, strech or dance
Well ventilated :  avoid overheated rooms creating difficult conditions for students and the  artist

Quiet : no open spaces connected with playtime or recess areas

For information

Monique Jutras
Phone : 514 766-6827
Email :

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