South Surrey School of Music marks a muted milestone – Peace Arch News
Cheryl Finn celebrated the 10th anniversary of her South Surrey school, The Semiahmoo Academy of Music, last month – although the milestone passed with muted fanfare.
COVID-19 ensured that, she said Peace Ark News.
“We all had these big plans to celebrate the anniversary,” she said in a recent interview at the school’s Southpoint Business Center, which teaches private lessons in voice, piano, guitar, bass guitar, flute and violin – plus music theory. and history – to students ranging in age from pre-school years to adulthood.
Large-scale performances and gatherings were off the schedule, due to current restrictions, she said.
“This is definitely not where we saw ourselves 10 years ago!” she laughed.
But — thankfully — the demand for music lessons hasn’t diminished due to the pandemic, she said.
Due to the nature of the business, the school and faculty were able to quickly adapt to a safe model of online teaching after a state of emergency was declared in March.
“We had two weeks to prepare and went live on April 1,” Finn said.
Even with subsequent relaxations of quarantine restrictions, she said, the school continues to offer a mix of online and remote in-person classes, depending on the comfort level of each student and teacher.
“Some students have taken a hybrid approach – one week online, one week in person.”
Adding to a sense of continuity for students is the familiarity of the suite of classrooms on the second floor of the business center.
“It’s been our location since day one,” said Finn – whose twin daughters Alanna and Brianne Finn-Morris, better known as pop duo Fionn, are also alumni of the school.
“It used to be a ballroom dance school. We inherited the beautiful parquet floors – but when we arrived we had to create separate classrooms and all the soundproof walls had to be built.
But the work done afterwards has resulted in a growth for the school over the past decade that has been “tremendous”, Finn said.
“We have gone from four teachers to 14 and from 50 students to 300,” she added. “Most of our students are between the ages of three and a half and 18, although we also have a few adult students.”
The school mainly follows Royal Conservatory of Music curricula – Finn is an accredited conservatory examiner as well as a frequent referee for music festivals – and many students come here to prepare for exams, she said , noting that grades from Royal Conservatory examinations can be applied towards high school credits or other graduation credits.
“The piano is definitely the most popular instrument for students, followed closely by guitar and violin,” Finn said. “We have also recently started singing lessons, as we have received a lot of requests for this.”
A number of students went on to study music at the university level, she said, while one of their first students was accepted at the prestigious Berklee College in Boston as a major in composition for film and television.
While many students study classical music at the Royal Conservatory, Finn said: “Others just want to learn their favorite songs.”
Whatever the motivation, music education is invaluable in every student’s growth, she said, whether or not it’s something that’s continued later.
Even if the student never continues with the music, the lessons contribute to a much broader understanding and appreciation of the many forms as a listener and potential audience member.
“It develops our artistic side,” she said. “It opens students’ minds to other musical cultures – in learning the history of music, it takes them back to medieval times.
“Most importantly, it teaches them how much they need to put into their studies in terms of discipline. He teaches much more than music. When you already do three-hour theory exams, when you enter university, a three-hour exam is not so bad.
For more information visit semiahmooacademyofmusic.ca