Melissa Edwards

School band returns to EMCS

Band program at high school revitalized after 12 years

The Edward Milne community school concert band has returned after a 12 year absence, and will be working with the Journey middle school program to possibly play at the MusicFest Canada nationals this year.

“It’s going pretty well,” said EMCS band director, Melissa Edwards. “We have one group of advanced kids and one group of beginners. Everybody is really excited about having a music program here again.”

Edwards, who brings 25 years of teaching music to EMCS, said there are currently 12 students enrolled, playing in an ensemble of guitars, pianos, violins, cellos and wind instruments.

She said the band will soon be welcoming a student from Journey middle school to add percussion into the mix.

“Everyday I go in and it’s just positive energy everywhere,” she said.

The return of the band program, which has received immense support from EMCS principal, Patrick Swinburnson, and parents and students, has given Journey middle school’s musicians a place to continue their education.

The local middle school has had a band program for the last four years — a program spearheaded by band teacher, Lorna Bjorklund.

The school currently has programming for strings, brass, woodwind and percussion instruments.

The programs, which currently have 100 students enrolled, have been a growing success.

“(The students) are very keen on it, and now it’s getting to the point where they feel they might have to sign up a year in advance. There’s getting to be fewer spaces in the classes,” Bjorklund said.

According to Bjorklund and Edwards, the development of music programs is to keep music in Sooke, and develop a feeder program for students.

The two bands will be performing together at the MusicFest Canada semi-finals in Port Alberni in April, and potentially the nationals in Toronto in May.

Sooke’s young musicians earned entry into the nationals last year.

It will cost approximately $1,500 to send one child to nationals, and Bjorklund said she hopes to have 30 students attend.

“We say that it is our dream. Our dream is to do that,” she said. “So we’re looking for sponsors and we’re looking for ways to fundraise.”

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