Classroom Experience May 6, 2024

Cultivating Harmony: Tolkyn’s Musical Journey in the North

Tolkyn Menkesheva, a passionate educator and proud member of the 2021 Gakino’amaage cohort, embodies the spirit of dedication with her students. As a grade 9-12 music teacher in St. Theresa Point First Nation, Tolkyn built a music program from the ground up, going as far as receiving a grant to provide instruments for her students.

Tolkyn not only imparts knowledge but also fosters a sense of pride and cultural identity among her students, enriching their educational experience through music and paving the way for a brighter future.



In the heart of St. Theresa Point First Nation, Tolkyn Menkesheva has been shaping a unique musical story. As the driving force behind the high school music program, she’s not just teaching notes; she’s nurturing a love for music and a connection to culture.


“When I arrived, there was no music program,” Tolkyn recalls. “I knew we had to start from scratch.”


With determination and support from a Music Education Charity Canada MusiCounts grant, Tolkyn equipped her classroom with guitars, keyboards, and violins. She began with basics, teaching music theory and guiding students through the sounds of different instruments.


“We cover everything from theory to practical skills,” Tolkyn explains. “From simple melodies to classical pieces, we’re learning together.”


Gakino’amaage teacher, Tolkyn Menkesheva, playing violin and teaching music class in St. Theresa Point First Nation.


Beyond music, Tolkyn emphasizes respect and community. She encourages students to care for their instruments and each other, fostering an environment where everyone’s voice is heard.


Raised in a musical family in Aktobe, Kazakhstan, Tolkyn brings her own experiences to the classroom. “We had a family band when we were younger,” she shares. “Music has always been a part of my life.”


Inspired by her upbringing, Tolkyn dreams of creating a dedicated space where students can explore music freely. “We’re not just learning music; we’re building a community,” she says.


Her efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. The community eagerly anticipates an upcoming showcase, where students will share their talents with pride. “While we’re currently working on classical music, we’re planning to showcase square dancing music and Irish jigs,” Tolkyn reveals. 


Tolkyn, empowered by a MusiCounts grant, has been introducing her students to the world of music with keyboards, guitars, and violins.


Looking ahead, Tolkyn will continue to incorporate Indigenous music into the program. “I’ve had students bring in their drums and perform,” she says. “It’s important to me to honour and incorporate traditional knowledge and culture into the music program.”


“I encourage others to explore the opportunities the North has to offer,” Tolkyn says. “It’s challenging, and incredibly rewarding.” 



Are you interested in living and teaching in the North? We’re accepting applications from Canadian-certified teachers interested in Going North with Gakino’amaage. Learn more and apply.