New instruments music to our ears!

Nechako Valley Secondary School Band purchases new instruments with the help of grants

VANDERHOOF — at the start of the day, Tuesday May 16, senior band members, NVSS students in grades 8 – 12, gathered for a photograph with Music Director, Mr. Russel Larden and NKDF Director, Mr. Wayne Salewski and the much appreciated cheque for $15,000 from Nechako Kitamaat Development Fund Society. The money will be used towards the purchase of new instruments and band program equipment.

The NVSS band program is an absolute jewel. For many years now it has been a real source of pride for the community and band members have delighted audiences in competitions all over the province. One would never guess the sad state of the instruments that they have to work with, or the gaping holes in the collection of band room equipment.

Let’s just say that the band’s music-making tools have been sincerely well-loved! So much so that NVSS Music Director, Mr. Russel Larden, admitted that several grade 5 – 12 students are so creative, and such good sports, they’ve been game to play “air flute”, strum make-shift drums and woodwinds, accompanying their colleagues moving fingers on imaginary key pads just to be able to participate in class.

Mr. Larden also mentioned that before even dreaming of new equipment, he tried fixing the existing apparatus. Of over 50 instruments sent away to Skeena Sight and Sound in Terrace, for repair, only about 27 came back with some semblance of extended life. The rest of the expired shiny noise-makers were beyond repair and basically had to be written-off.

Musical instruments are expensive for sure, a luxury investment in most cases. Some students have been able to find some to borrow, a few might be fortunate enough to buy or rent the equipment they need. But that doesn’t always pan out and certainly just doesn’t cut it for a band program with goals of success and equal student opportunity. With the band program being as popular as it is, something had to be done. So with the help of go-getter parents like Peet Vahi, Mr. Larden put together a grant proposal to remedy the situation and good news – they quite clearly struck the right chord with funders!

The goal was to sustain and enhance the school music program in Vanderhoof, which is, apparently, the only school-based music program within School District 91. Generous funding from Nechako Kitimaat Development Fund (NKDF), the Province of B.C. and the School District has made it possible for Mr. Larden to purchase much needed musical instruments to replace old and complement existing equipment, allowing for greater access to the music program for all students. As a result the music program has an expanded enrolment expectation of up to 200 students in 2017/18 school year.

The project has so far secured $30,000 of the total $48,000 project budget for the purchase of a prioritized selection of equipment. Funds so far confirmed include $15,000 allocation from NKDF, $11,571 from SD 91 and $5,000 from the Province. The NVSS band is still in the process of seeking and hopefully securing the remaining $16,429 needed to fulfill the programs forseeable requirements.

With the new instruments they have so far an already excellent school music program will enjoy continued success and be able to perform with even greater depth and sound. Students and audiences will definitely hear the difference. Funding for a program like this is a gift that keeps on giving. This project not only makes music, it supports community capacity development. A thriving music program is one more reason to attract and retain residents with school-aged children.

Instruments will remain in the care of the music program. Where appropriate, the equipment is signed out to students for the purpose of practice and performance. Students will no doubt delight in the new hardware and appreciate that these precious instruments are expected to last a long time, be passed along and bring joy to many years of students to follow.

Instrument quotes to the tune of $30,000:

Xylophone (1) 3,439.00; Stand-up Bass (1) 899.99; Stand for Bass (1) 109.99; Clarinet (4) 2,199.96; Flute (2) 1,099.98; Alto Saxophone (3) 3,599.97; Tenor Sax. (1) 1,499.99; Trumpet (5) 2,749.95; Oboe (1) 1,749.99; Picolo (1) 779.99; Trombone (2) 1,299.98; Euphonium (1) 1,849.99; Tuba (1) 3,299.99; Tuba Stand (1) 107.99; Concert Snare Drum (1) 599.99; Snare Drum Stand (1) 99.99; Yamaha Drum Set (1) 988.88; Double Cymbal Stand (1) 89.99; Drum Skins 178.95; Misc. Drum Equipment 140.97.