Community band up and running in Ladysmith

Grade 5, 6 and 7 students in Ladysmith are getting a chance to learn new instruments in a weekly concert band class.

Cameron Wigmore (centre) is offering a community band program for Grade 5

For the past month, young students in Ladysmith have been meeting once a week to learn to play the trumpet, saxophone, clarinet and flute.

Cameron Wigmore, a tenor saxophonist who works as an educational services consultant with Tom Lee Music, recently began offering a community band program for Ladysmith-area students in Grade 5, 6 and 7.

The nine-month program, which began Oct. 1, brings students together once a week for a one-hour instrumental concert band class.

Through his work with Tom Lee Music, Wigmore met Rod Alsop, the band teacher at Ladysmith Secondary School (LSS), who informed him about the need for an elementary school concert band program in Ladysmith, he explained.

“There’s a need,” he said. “I think it’s important for kids to have that opportunity. I had that opportunity. If elementary school programs disappear, secondary band programs will disappear.”

Through the community band program, Wigmore hopes to pass on a love for music, the ability to play an instrument and the experiences that come with being part of a band.

“I want them to come away from this with the skill of being able to play an instrument and the social aspect of a band class where you work as a group throughout the year — that is unique from other classes where you may have labs, but this is unique, as a whole group comes together to play a song; the social aspect is a huge part of it,” he said. “Hopefully they’ll see it’s really rewarding at that young age and want to come back, and hopefully we’ll have 20-plus kids.”

So far, Wigmore has brought in clinicians who are experts on each instrument to work one-on-one with each student.

Currently, the students have five notes on their radar.

“You can make a song with five notes, you can make some harmony, so we’re working on that” said Wigmore. “We’re just starting to get going with the basics of reading music and playing our instrument.”

Wigmore believes Grades 5, 6 and 7 are a great time to learn an instrument.

“That age group is fantastic for teaching something new where they are starting from scratch,” he said. “By Grade 8, it’s difficult to teach a teen or young adult to start something new because it’s going to be difficult. If it’s fun and there’s a big program and a good teacher, that can happen, but that doesn’t exist without an elementary program, and that’s the Catch 22. Kids have a better time being a beginner and learning an instrument. Then they can jump into a secondary program and participate in band trips, which are really fun.”

Wigmore says there has been a lot of interest, and he currently has a small wind ensemble with 11 students from École Davis Road Elementary and Ladysmith Intermediate School.

Although the community band program has already been running for about a month, Wigmore says students can still join up to the middle of this month. After November, it gets difficult to join because the students have already been playing for a while and will be moving forward.

Classes are held Mondays from 3:30-4:30 p.m. in the LSS band room.

The fee for the program is $300 for the school year and works out to $10 per one-hour concert band class, and the fee qualifies for the Canadian Children’s Arts Tax Credit and is totally refundable within 30 days of payment, according to Wigmore.

Wigmore plans to run the program again next year and says the price will probably be the same as this year.

For more information, contact Wigmore at 250-739-2522 or camsax@gmail.com.

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