Roberts Creek Elementary School was transformed by a tiny army of volunteers this week into a Celtic music mecca that drew more than 140 students from across B.C. and as far away as Switzerland to learn from the best.
The Coast School of Celtic Music, in its 13th year, didn’t disappoint.
Instructors came from across Canada, the U.S. and Scotland to teach eager students aged six to 70-plus traditional Celtic music as played on fiddle, cello, piano, pennywhistle, guitar, mandolin and more.
Instructors like Andrea Beaton, a Cape Breton fiddle composer who was nominated for three East Coast Music Awards and won Instrumental Recording of the Year in 2010, brought an undeniable Celtic soul to her class, as did traditional Celtic band leader Iain Fraser, who’s currently the music director of the Merlin Traditional Music Academy in Melrose, Scotland.
Included in the local Celtic school, which ran July 7 to 11 and used every room at Roberts Creek Elementary, was instruction in vocal performance, dance and other Celtic traditions.
“We want our students to learn the roots and then they can venture out on the branches,” said Ann Law, who runs the Coast School of Celtic Music.
The school started in 2001 under the Coast String Fiddlers and later became its own society in 2010.
The whole thing came together after Law and her husband John had a conversation with Fraser at a similar school they had taken their son to in Colorado.
“We met Iain Fraser, who was teaching there, and he asked us why we had come so far,” Law recalled. “We said there wasn’t anything available on the West Coast. He said there was no reason we couldn’t start something, and he offered his help.”
Fraser was one of the first instructors at the Coast School of Celtic Music and he’s stood by the school ever since.
“He’s an inspiration for our students. He’s very accomplished,” Law noted.
All of the instructors are high calibre and respected in their fields, which is one of the draws to the school. Of course, the beautiful area and fantastic volunteers don’t hurt either.
“I say our volunteers are like our little Celtic army and they really do an amazing job transforming the school and taking care of everyone,” Law said.
It takes about 30 volunteers to run the week-long Celtic school every year.
Law is very thankful to School District No. 46 for the use of Roberts Creek Elementary School, noting there’s not many places big enough to accommodate the large crowd that comes each year.
The popular Celtic music school is the only one of its kind in B.C. and draws about 70 per cent of its students from off Coast.
Find out more at www.coastcelticmusic.com.
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