Sara Moss and Lara Hamburg play their music in coffee shops

West Shore teens tackle social issues in song

The Belmont students, who perform as Sarah and Lara, started taking guitar lessons in 2011.

Sarah Moss and Lara Hamburg harmonize to end bullying and increase organ donations.

Best friends since starting Grade 3 at Hans Helgesen elementary school, they wrote and performed “Better Than This” to approach bullying among teens in school.

“I just thought about when I was in Grade 6 and 7 and how I felt bullied and singled out,” Moss said, adding her song was also inspired by a friend targeted by bullies.

The duo’s manager, Steve Gilbert, sent the song to his long-time friend and former business partner Michael Ravenhill, CEO of the David Foster Foundation. Ravenhill loved it. Visualizing potential, he plans to visit the Metchosin studio to help the two 15-year-olds finalize the song in the new year. A children’s choir is rehearsing the chorus for the new recording.

With that news the teen’s manager challenged Moss to write a new song promoting organ donation. The song “Miracle Today” is a surprise for Ravenhill when he visits Metchosin.

“Miracle Today” tells a story of girl name Jessica who needs an organ transplant to live. As she lingers near death, a boy dies in a car crash saving her.

It’s one of about 20 songs Moss has written since the partnership.

The Belmont students, who perform as Sarah and Lara, started taking guitar lessons from Gilbert in 2011. In seven years teaching music, it’s the first time he told his students to form a band.

“They both are amazing,” he said. But it took some work to get them recording.

“I put a microphone in front of (Sarah) and she just pushed it away and said she would never sing into a microphone,” said Gilbert.

The teacher had a plan, he would crank Taylor Swift music and have them sing along, with the mic out.

“I slowly lowered the Taylor Swift volume and eventually it was just them singing,” he said.

Twice a week the musicians practise with their manager teacher and play gigs as often as they can.

Their first public performance was at a Metchosin Community House open mic night last December.

“We were so nervous and we were thinking about backing out,” said Moss, adding there were only about 15 people in the audience.

Now the seasoned performers have sung in coffee shops all across Greater Victoria, retirement homes and a children’s hospice in Vancouver.

“We are trying to perform whereever we can and work on recording,” said Moss, who sings and plays guitar.

The Grade 10 students hope to make music a full-time job.

“Both of us couldn’t see us doing anything else,” said Hamburg, who sings plus plays guitar and piano

The artists have varied tastes in music, but say their differences complement each other.

Hamburg is a bit more rebellious enjoying the edge of Paramore and Macklemore but also listens to Mumford and Sons. Moss prefers country and crooner music including Taylor Swift and Michael Buble.

Sarah and Lara perform at Serious Coffee, 230 Cook St. Nov. 15 from 7 to 9 p.m., Serious Coffee, West Shore Town Centre, 2945 Jacklin Rd., Dec. 13 from 7 to 9 p.m. and at the The Atrium at Royal Jubilee Hospital, 1952 Bay St., Nov. 29 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.