PORT HARDY—Budget tightening in the past decade slashed music programs at North Island Schools, but its comeback is picking up steam.
On the heels of the formation of the Wild Heart children’s choir in Port McNeill earlier this year, a new program for beginner band students — youth and adult — is now available in Port Hardy each Monday at 5:30 p.m.
Shawn Gough, a local musician and teacher, has resurrected the Pacific Winds band program for beginner and intermediate students. The after-school program was started in the mid-2000s to give stranded school band students an opportunity to continue playing, and featured appearances by members in the Vancouver Island Music Festival and Music Fest Canada in Richmond in 2007. It was discontinued in 2010 when the last of its members graduated from secondary school, but Gough decided the time was ripe to offer instruction to a new generation of students.
“It’s open to anyone in grade 5 and older, including adults,” said Gough. “We’ve already got a couple of parents who have come with their kids and started playing.”
The program was inspired partly by the one-year restoration of a junior band program at Port Hardy Secondary School, offered to Grade 8-9 students last year. That class was taught by vice-principal Malcolm Fleeton, but was discontinued when Fleeton was reassigned to Eagle View Elementary as principal this year.
That first-year group of students performed with the North Island Community Band at PHSS grad.
Gough re-started Pacific Winds with two components — a Monday evening session for beginner students and a second session, held Thursdays at 7 p.m., for intermediate students who already know how to read music and have previous experience playing.
Cost for participation is $100, which covers the entire school year. To join, visit the PHSS band room Mondays at 5:30 p.m. or Thursdays at 7 p.m.