Sooke is home both to incredible talent, and to incredible individuals dedicated to nurturing that talent.
On April 17, students from Journey middle school participated in a band competition in Port Alberni. Band programs from schools throughout Vancouver Island took part in this regional affair, which is part of a bigger, national competition called MusicFest Canada.
On the Journey middle school’s website (journey.sd62.bc.ca) a recent post reads: “Given all their hard work and practice of late, it is not at all surprising that they scored a superior platinum rating.” The available ratings are Bronze, Silver and Gold. For performances that exceed Gold, there’s Superior. And then taking it up to the highest possible, there’s Superior Plus.
Joanne Baines, mother to Jordan and Adam Baines who are both in the music program at Journey, spoke to their performance. “A lot of good comments around, the children were very well behaved, the music was wonderful, and the kids had a wonderful time.”
Deb Wood, a proud grandparent of a Journey performer, summarized the results. “The Grade 8 band, taught and conducted by Lorna Bjorklund, performed three pieces and were adjudicated with a ‘Superior Platinum’ grade for their wonderful performances! Both the Grade 6 and 7 string orchestras, taught and conducted by Ann McDougal, were adjudicated with a ‘Superior Plus’ grade for their fantastic performances.”
The bands’ ranking entitles them to compete in next years national competition at MusicFest Canada, and according to Baines, the competition will probably be held in Western Canada, making it more affordable for the players from Journey to attend.
A fundraiser at Christmas time helped secure the funds that enabled the players from Journey to attend the competition at Port Alberni. Additional fundraisers will be held throughout this and next school year to help sponsor their participation at next year’s national competition.
Wood warmly recognizes “the teachers, Ms. Lorna Bjorklund and Ms. Ann McDougal, who volunteer their time to teach music and give our students such a great learning opportunity.”
Bjorklund, who has been teaching in Sooke since 2008, is the Director of the Sooke Academy of Music and is the teacher who develops the band programs at Journey. She has an academic background from the Royal Conservatory of Toronto with an Associate of The Royal Conservatory (ARCT) diploma for Performers and Teachers. It is the highest academic standings awarded by The Royal Conservatory, and is respected internationally as a teaching qualification.
Bjorklund has been with Journey middle school since 2008, and currently develops band programs at both Journey middle school and Edward Milne community school. She also runs the Sooke Academy of Music.
McDougal, who, according to the Sooke Philharmonic blog, has been passionate about the violin since age 12. She played with the Alberta Baroque Ensemble for 20 years and played on-and-off with the Edmonton Symphony for 18. Here in Sooke, McDougal is the Concertmaster and volunteers her time to work with the string band at Journey middle school.
If you want to hear the students from Journey middle school perform, there will be a free “Jump on the Bandwagon” concert held at Journey middle school on Thursday, May 9 starting at 7 p.m.
As their press release states, “the performance would be of special interest to any elementary students who are considering learning to play an instrument through the band program at Journey middle school (which starts in Grade 6). Teachers, parents, and students will be on hand to share their experiences with the program, the instruments, the commitment, the concerts, the local Sooke Academy of Music, how to earn high school credits by studying music, etc. It’s a chance to find out more, ask questions and see the program in action.”