A place for all that love to play
For two decades musicians have been gathering together for their love of music. The group aims to make music accessible to everyone in the community regardless of age, skill level or socioeconomic status. They are currently welcoming new members.
“We welcome everyone 13 and up,” said trumpet player Ned Booker. “We might even take a precocious and motivated 10-year-old – it’s all negotiable if they love music.”
The band strives for a supportive environment that encourages new members to pick up forgotten instruments, learn new instruments or enhance their current skills, according to its website. It was a warm and welcoming place for Judith Nitsch who took up the clarinet as she approached 50.
“I saw my eldest son playing in the school band and I thought I would like to do that,” said Nitsch. She began with lessons with a teacher and about a year later was encouraged to give the community band a try.
“It is one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I am glad I didn’t take up piano or guitar – something that I played by myself. I had never been a part of a band program,” she said. “I felt like a fish in the deep blue sea.”
During the first nervous practice, she was guided to her section, supported by another player.
“I didn’t play a lot,” laughed Nitsch. “There is a lot to pay attention to and our conductor gently guided me to play the first note of each bar. I was so welcome and I didn’t know what I was doing.”
Music for all
Booker felt just as welcome but in a completely different way. A musician for more than 25 years he has played most of his life since the age of six.
“I haven’t been in Vancouver long, nearly two years,” said Booker. “I got to know our current conductor and found a place in the band.”
He was drawn to the band’s goals of bringing music to those who might not have access.
“I just love community performances,” said Booker. “I grew up in a rural area and I loved community music. When you go you see everyone in the audience, children, parents, seniors – it’s by the community for the community.”
The NV Community Band’s goals to allow all to experience music are embraced by the players.
“It tends to be folks with kids in high school and a bit more time, or people who have retired,” said Booker. “People often have to take a break from their music. The musician who sits next to me played in high school and he came back to it decades later. He’s a great player. I don’t want to turn anyone away.”
Today the band has musicians between 20 and 80. The pandemic impacted their numbers and they would like others to join them. Practices are held Thursdays from 7:30 – 9 pm in the music room at Carson Graham Secondary School.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to be a tiny part of a whole,” said Nitsch. “I don’t play in a band to be heard, I play to make music that I couldn’t make by myself.”
Upcoming concert May 31
The North Vancouver Community Band will bring a variety of lively pieces to the Lynn Valley Library on the evening of May 31. There will be well-known melodies from movies, a medley of Duke Ellington, a Gaelic piece as well as the exciting Jitterbug by North Vancouver’s Robert Buckley. If you can not make the May 31 concert, the same set will be performed at the North Vancouver Band Fest on June 11 at the Shipyards.
“It’s fun – stuff we like to play and we hope people like to listen to,” said Booker, adding “It’s a bit bittersweet. Our current conductor is departing after 20-plus years with the band. These performances are to say thank you – not goodbye.”