The Rockingham hills are alive with the sound of music thanks to an unplanned hiatus for professional musicians

Staff Reporter

ROCKINGHAM- Retreating from a hectic schedule can help foster creativity. It is for this reason that humans have instituted vacations and sabbaticals. Occasionally, people can become so absorbed in their work that they forget to take time off from their workaday world to pause and reflect on what they are missing, or to consider what else they could be doing. Sometimes, providence kicks in and forces people to take a break from their careers to help them get some perspective on life.

Around the world this year, professional musicians were forced to retreat from their previously planned tour dates and pre-booked concerts. For many musicians, this halt to routine business was a devastating financial loss as well as a disruption in their creative lives.

For other performers, the chance to stay closer to home was an opportunity to pursue different dreams and to work on new projects or old ideas that previously had to be put on the back burner.

Here in the Valley, musicians Emilyn Stam and John David Williams used their time at home to launch the Rockingham Folk Music School. This endeavour is one which has the potential to grow and to significantly impact the lives of people of all ages wanting to develop their musical talents.

These musicians know the value that music education can bring to rural villages. The writeup on their webpage under the heading “Music and Community” says, “Growing up in the unique fiddling community of Smithers in Northern BC, Emilyn was mentored by Oliver Schroer, who fostered her love of creative music exploration through improvising, tune writing and ensemble playing from an early age. John studied under world renowned clarinettist Avrahm Galper who imparted his deep respect for tone and simplicity in music making.”

Emilyn told The Valley Gazette that when she was in the folk music orchestra in Smithers, there were about 80 kids participating in the program in a town of about 5,000 people. Such an experience is a great way to keep kids busy while teaching them new skills in a group setting. An opportunity for kids to play music with their friends gives them a meaningful context for playing the music they are learning.

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