Toddlers join in a musical story time class at the Victoria Conservatory of Music. The conservatory opened its Westshore campus earlier this year.

WEST SHORE ARTS COUNCIL: Conservatory of Music embraced on West Shore

New programs offer a range of options for taking lessons

Many West Shore residents have enjoyed improved access to the Victoria Conservatory of Music’s comprehensive programming since its official opening in May.

The unveiling of the conservatory’s first satellite location, at the Westhills YMCA-YWCA complex in Langford, followed the institution’s 50th anniversary in 2014, which saw the launch of a $2-million capital campaign. One of the five initiatives sought to expand into the Western Communities.

“There were quite a few years of research and conversation,” said Victoria Conservatory of Music dean, Stephen Green. “The main contributing factor was the huge population growth and a focus on the younger families that are out there, and noticing that more and more people were trying to commute to our main location in Victoria. But because of the traffic situation, this led to us wanting to move ahead and we are very happy that we did.”

As a not-for-profit and a registered charity, the conservatory’s mandate is to provide accessible music education to everyone, regardless of age or ability.

“We are hoping that in the West Shore we are able to bring a type of music education that meets the needs and interests of residents, but also complements what other music programs are out there,” Green said.

Since the opening of the new location, he said, there has been a very positive response from West Shore residents and businesses. “We are reacting, in many ways, to feedback we had from residents, (about) the types of programs they would like to see.”

The Victoria Conservatory of Music offers programs for all ages and levels of experience, from babies and toddlers – including musical story times for young children and families – to lessons for youth and adults. Classes range from introductory to advanced and are offered in one-on-one and group instruction scenarios. Students who previously commuted downtown can also receive instruction in theory and musicianship at the Westhills location.

There are traditional lessons for instruments such as piano, strings, wind and brass, as well as more innovative methods. Through the use of award-winning computer software, the Children’s Music Journey program teaches the fundamentals of music while promoting creativity and collaboration.

“This program turns the table by allowing the student to be the composer,” Green explained. Used worldwide, this virtual course is embraced by five elementary schools throughout Victoria.

As for concert offerings, West Shore residents can look forward to more local events in the future. “We are working on developing that right now. In the meantime, though, our end of term recitals and our VCM Presents series are all run through our main location,” Green said.

Visit westshorearts.org for more information on how to become involved in your local arts community.

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