-Images and article submitted by Sheila Whincup
When school closures extended well beyond spring break with no end in sight, the participants of Harmony Project Sooke wondered what to do. Who knew that only two months later the project would be preparing to present its first-ever Virtual Year-end Celebration Concert.
Harmony Project Sooke (HPS) is a non-profit society that provides a Strings program (violin, viola and cello) for students in grades two and up, and a Drumline program (marching band-style drumming) for students in grades six and up.
The big question HPS pondered was how could the students maintain their progress while isolated at home? HPS classes take place outside of school hours but they meet at Journey Middle School, which was shut uptight.
Fortunately, the HPS project provides each student with an instrument to use as their own and to take home for practice, so most of the students had their instruments at home. Strings students had actual instruments, while Drumline members had practice drum pads.
The teachers enthusiastically dove into planning online lessons and classes and gradually rolled out a schedule. It was a big learning curve for everyone, but after two months of experimenting, the results have been gratifying.
Lead Strings teacher Maria Wang noted that especially the younger students have really blossomed with more one-on-one instruction. Students also enjoy the group classes where they can catch up socially with each other, like finding out who just got a new skateboard.
“The more advanced students are learning how to express musical concepts verbally. Through presenting research projects, for example on the topic of Baroque dance music, they’re learning how to present to their peers, who in turn listen and give feedback,” said Maria.
Drumline teachers Chris Rivollier and Alex Mold are also excited by the process. “The students get so much more individual attention and in fact are making incredible progress in technique. They seem more willing to make mistakes, and we have the time to correct them. The downside is that we miss performing as a group.”
Now as summer approaches, the students and teachers are preparing for their first-ever virtual year-end concert. Students will perform individually and in duets, trios and quartets. Family, friends and the public are invited to attend.
The performances will also serve as their “exam” in that they will be evaluated on components such as musicianship and technique. The teacher jurors will also assess the students on their participation, personality, and progress during the term.
The online concert will take place via Zoom on Tues June 23rd at 4 pm (performers meet at 3 pm). Parents and other supporters of HPS will receive personal invitations with a password to the Zoom “meeting”.
Members of the wider public are also welcome to attend. To receive an invitation with instructions and a password, please email your request to Lorna Bjorklund: email@example.com
An added treat will be performances by the HPS teachers! Research shows that music education enhances brain development as well as life skills in the students, but a recent article in Scientific American describes how music also synchronizes the brains of performers with the brains of their audience members. So, come and enjoy the synchrony!
The concert will run around 1.5 hours and is free to attend. The organizers, of course, would welcome any support to help keep Harmony Project Sooke healthy during and after this pandemic.
People who wish to donate may do so by E-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org (The funds are deposited automatically, so no security question/answer is required.); or by Paypal or credit card at the HPS website www.harmonyprojectsooke.ca (go to the “Help Us” tab).