Meet Mary & Her Amazing Grandkids

Mary Cameron + Her Grankids



Nana Mary + her grandkids: William, Deon and Harris.



Because they get what giving is all about.


‘Tis the season. For decking the halls. For singing “fa la la la la.” For using candy canes as breath fresheners. We’re big fans of Christmas, but one of our favourite parts of this season is the giving. Not just the giving of Nintendo Switches or lego sets, but the giving of time. The time it takes you to prepare that extra special festive meal with your signature stuffing. Or the time and effort you put into creating a cozy Christmas oasis in your home for gatherings with family and friends.

Everything sounds so nice. So perfect. And yet we all know that reality often paints a different picture. That the giving can be stressful. That the hosting can be overwhelming. That sometimes you want to send Christmas - and all her little elves - right back to where they came from.

But when it comes to giving, one of our Backbeat families has chosen to do things differently. We were first introduced to their way of giving through “Nana,” who also goes by the name of Mary Cameron. A couple of years ago, Mary approached us and said “I want my grandchildren to experience Backbeat and, if they like it, I want to go ahead and pay for their music lessons. Can you help me with this?”

William Kerber
William Kerber playing Papa Alan's guitar. Photo credit: The Gray Hive Photo.
Deon Kerber
Deon Kerber playing the keys. Photo Credit: The Gray Hive Photo.


This question led to two of her grandchildren, William (then 10 years old) and Deon (then eight), showing up at Backbeat on a Saturday morning for a couple of trial lessons. William was interested in learning guitar and Deon wanted to try piano. Both boys came out of their lessons beaming. For Mary, this was all that she needed to see. Ever since, she has been gifting Deon and William their music lessons.



This is where we have to be honest. We feel like the lucky ones in all this. Music comes naturally to both Deon and William. You can see it in the way their faces light up when they’re playing. You can see it in their innate curiousity about all things music and how they want to learn more. Grow more. And now, thanks to this gift, we have front row seats to watch their musical ability grow and flourish. This brings us pure joy.

Harris Skoreyko
Harris Skoreyko counting the beat. Photo Credit: The Gray Hive Photo.


But Mary doesn’t have just two grandchildren. She has nine. It wasn’t long before another one of her grandsons, then six year-old Harris, also came in for a trial lesson. It was during this trial that we learned that Harris not only loved music, but he also loved Scooby-Doo. As in, he really loved him. The only guitar riff he wanted to play was the Scooby-Doo theme song. Lucky for us, Harris was open to expanding his horizons beyond the world of canine mysteries and ultimately signed up to be part of our Bigger Beats program.

"Thinking of a toy at Christmas, it's not as special, that's for sure."  

- Katrina Skoreyko (Harris' mom)


Mary likes to gift her grandchildren experiences over things. She’s done Kiwi boxes and Harris received golf lessons this past summer. She also gifts her own time by offering to drive her grandchildren to their lessons or activities when she’s able to do so. “At Christmas and on birthdays, there are just too many things and I think it takes away the value of it. So [instead] we try giving experiences [the grandkids] are going to remember.” Like their upcoming family ski trip to Jasper or getaways to the family cabin.

It’s tempting to think that receiving a gift you can’t unwrap might be somewhat disappointing. “Honestly, these gifts of experience are the best gifts you could ever give your kid.” shares Katrina, Mary’s daughter-in-law and mom to Harris, “Thinking of a toy at Christmas, it’s not as special, that’s for sure.” Katrina feels that the gift of music, in particular, is an especially beautiful thing.

William Kerber playing guitar
Papa Alan's guitar played by William Kerber. Photo Credit: The Gray Hive Photo.


This is when we really get into the heart of things.  Alan Skoreyko is Mary’s husband and “Papa” to Deon, Will and Harris.  “One of the reasons [gifting music lessons] is so special is Alan’s whole family is amazingly gifted in music.” shares Mary “Alan is a marvelous singer, he has grade nine piano, he is an amazing bass guitar player...he put himself through university playing.” Mary goes on to share how all of Alan’s brothers, as well as his mother, are also incredibly talented when it comes to music. All the grandkids love Papa and they know that music is one of his things. “Being able to share in this gift of music together brings their relationship all the more closer.” We can hear it in Mary’s voice and see it in her face. The overflowing heart behind this gift. Her and Alan are sharing what they value most with those they love most. This type of giving gets us right in the heart.



‘Tis the season. For giving. For being with those we love most. For sharing what we love most with those we love most. This year, we’re going to take a page out of Nana and Papa’s book to rethink the way we give. Care to join us?



Learn more about Edmonton's guitar lessons that ROCK.


Learn more about Edmonton's piano lessons that ROCK.