Music teacher Pam Smirl, one of a number of professional and part-time instructors on the West Shore, sits at the piano in the Victoria Conservatory of Music’s Alix Goolden Hall with one of her award-winning students, Taya Pai. Smirl says many of her students hail from the West Shore.

Music teacher Pam Smirl, one of a number of professional and part-time instructors on the West Shore, sits at the piano in the Victoria Conservatory of Music’s Alix Goolden Hall with one of her award-winning students, Taya Pai. Smirl says many of her students hail from the West Shore.

ARTS COLUMN: Release your inner Mozart (or Bon Jovi)

It’s never too late for West Shore residents to take up musical pursuits

There is a lot to be smug about when you live on the West Shore.

Nestled amongst countless trails and lakes, with excellent sports facilities and farmers markets, we’ve got it pretty good in the lifestyle department. But what about those of us who crave more artistic pursuits – specifically, the art of music?

Music teacher Pam Smirl, whose company takes on students from around Greater Victoria but largely from the West Shore, is just one provides various opportunities to develop musically.

“The creativity out here is huge,” she says.

And these aren’t just kids and teenagers who are learning to play piano and guitar. Though many of their students are young, the studio is quite passionate about making music accessible to everybody. “We teach anyone from six months old to 106 years old, all instruments and genres,” Smirl says.

Her students are well known for competing provincially and nationally, and sometimes even winning.

Samuel Lee was one of the winners of this year’s B.C. Provincial Music Writing Competition. Many others have gone on to excellent careers in the entertainment industry, including the West Shore’s own Calum Worthy, a graduate of the PACE Musical Theatre program, who’s now famous for his role on a major Disney Junior program.

But satisfaction doesn’t just derive from commercial success and winning awards. Some students overcome intense fear of performance while studying music.

That’s a process that takes time, both on the calendar and through comfortable performance opportunities, Smirl says. Performance is never mandatory amongst her students, but she admits it’s a powerful way to build confidence.

For those who feel the urge not just to play, but to create their own music, composition is widely taught by instructors around the West Shore on instruments from guitar and piano to drums and wind instruments.

Given the breadth of what is on offer in Greater Victoria, it’s nice to reflect that on the outskirts of B.C.’s capital that we have access to top-notch musical training.

Do you have daughter who won’t stop singing? A son constantly playing air guitar? Or do you have an old trumpet in your basement that you always thought you might learn to play?

Life is short – why not see if you’re not just the next Louis Armstrong? Search for music teachers  and you’ll find plenty on the West Shore.

Metchosin resident Shannon Carman is associate program co-ordinator with the Coast Collective in Colwood. Her column appears courtesy of the West Shore Arts Council.

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