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Harmony Project Sooke a boost for young musicians

Program offers unique music offering
Evy Miller and Leah Paquett practice with the Harmony Project Sooke string class. The pair were the among the first students in the program. (Contributed – Harmony Project Sooke)

When Harmony Project Sooke (HPS) began offering music programs in 2016, Evy Miller and Leah Paquette were among the Grade 2 students in its first strings class.

Flash forward to October 2022 to find these young musicians continuing to be immersed in HPS strings class.

Now in Grade 9, along with other long-time and newer students, have put in the focused learning, dedicated practice, and fun teamwork that enable them to now perform the Finale of Symphony No. 5 by Beethoven.

HPS is a non-profit society that provides musical instruments and instruction to children and youth in the Sooke area.

Founded in 2016 by the late Norman Nelson of the Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra, HPS offers a strings program (violin, viola, cello) for grades 3 and up students and a drumline program (marching band-style drumming) for grades 6 and up.

“Fall classes in both strings and drumline have resumed, and we already have quite a few exciting events lined up for this term,” said Lorna Bjorklund, HPS executive director.

The program provides students with both individual lessons and ensemble participation. Throughout the year, HPS students can perform at school and community events.

These have included performing at the Mayor’s New Year Levee, Sooke Youth Arts Fair, Sooke Philharmonic concerts, Santa Claus and Victoria Day parades, as well as the Halloween Drive-in Movie Night made possible by funding from the District of Sooke.

The first public performance this fall took place on Oct. 14 when HPS Strings and EMCS music students were invited to provide the background music at Government House for a celebration of excellence in education event. Two-hundred invited guests from across B.C. attended, including the lieutenant-governor, the premier and education minister.

Lead Strings teacher Maria Wang said that the combination of both one-on-one instruction plus ensemble playing in HPS benefits students in many ways.

“They gain not just technical skills but also social and teamwork skills. They can enjoy the challenge and fun of putting their skills together as a group to produce an excellent performance,” she said.

Classes take place outside of school hours which provides kids with positive and safe after school activity. Classes are held at Journey Middle School, Holy Trinity Anglican Church, and Sooke Baptist Church. “We are grateful for the donation-in-kind by the church venues,” added Bjorklund.

Drumline teachers Chris Rivollier and Alex Mold are excited to welcome students into three levels: junior, intermediate and senior.

Mold, who has composed new pieces for the classes, reported, “Students will be learning more complex double strokes and crossovers, as well as marching to some Latin rhythms.”

Students interested in joining a rock or folk band might find the comments by a rock band drummer at last summer’s Festival of Music and Arts instructive: “I wish my school had had a Drumline…instead, I had to pick up a lot of basic techniques on my own after I joined the band.”

Thanks to funding from the District of Sooke, HPS will be holding its third Halloween Drive-in Movie Night on Oct. 30. The event is to provide a fun and safe Halloween evening for the community, to showcase what HPS students can do, and to raise funds for HPS programs. Organizers will soon announce the film title, times, concession details, and how to obtain an invitation.

For more information about HPS or to register, please visit or contact Lorna Bjorklund at

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