SURREY — ‘Tis the season to be giving. Time for madness at the malls, making budgets (which apparently we will exceed) and finding that perfect gift for everyone on the list. As our lifestyles changed, my extended family decided to donate to a charity instead of buying gifts for the adults. We even have a special family dinner early in November to discuss local charities that we would like to give our combined donation. This is a great family-bonding time and we discover a lot about our community – and ourselves.
Last year we gave the gift of music by making a family donation to a local non-profit society, Access to Music Foundation. Co-ordinator for Access, Elka Yarlowe (pictured), let us know exactly where our donation went: to purchase instruments for three of the neediest schools in Surrey. Well done. Our gift this year is going to Access Music once again. Says Yarlowe, “We are working in partnership with Tom Lee Music, the school district and a wonderful group of people from a newly formed non-profit called Thanks for the Music Society.” The immediate goal for Surrey is to purchase 50 acoustic pianos for the school district. The hope is to acquire 250 pianos over the next few years. This is ambitious, and hurray for the school district in making music happen in our schools and to Access to Music for helping out.
You can get the full story about the organization by visiting its website, Accesstomusic.ca. Think about donating to this foundation. They are not eligible for government grants, so do rely on donations. I think you will be amazed at how much can be accomplished with even a small donation. Make sure to make music a gift this year.
Terry Armitage has taught private guitar lessons for more than 30 years. This Surrey resident also gives workshops in the schools and has helped form a few bands in his time. In 2015, he helped form the all-girl band, Sm:)e Band, and is now their manager. So far, this band has done more than 30 presentations in Lower Mainland schools, and was recently hired by the Surrey school district to do musical workshops in five inner-city schools.
This all-teen band not only performs, but gives back to the community by working with Variety Club, the Terry Fox Run and Toy Mountain at Guildford Town Centre. Their soon-to-be-released Christmas CD ($10) is part of their Kids Helping Kids program, and partial proceeds from the CD will go to the Salvation Army Kids Ministry in Surrey. This gift of music is spreading throughout the city!
The Sm:)e Band (as in “smile”) consists of Avery Amores, age 15, on bass and electric guitar, Veronica Amores, 17, on keyboard, Gabbie Evans, 15, on drums and ukulele and Kaitlyn Kelly, 17, guitar and ukulele.
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Of course, they all sing as well as play their varied instruments. These girls all attend Surrey Academy of Innovative Learning (SAIL), an online school. This gives them the opportunity to perform in schools and go on tour. Once again, Surrey is looking good. Great program, for sure.
The Sm:)e Band CD release party is on Dec. 3 from 2 to 5 p.m. at 7188 Curragh Ave., Burnaby. You will smile when you hear these girls perform. There will be doughnuts for sale, and other refreshments. Could be fun. If you can’t make it to the CD release party, contact band manager Armitage via email, firstname.lastname@example.org. I love this gift of music, delivered by a smile.
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At Northwood United Church’s Jazz Vespers event on Sunday, Dec. 11 — a 4 p.m. start at 8855 156th St., in Fleetwood – The Marcus Mosely Chorale (PICTURED) will be performing along with soloists. There are 50 choir members. This is a real gift of music. Mosely has performed throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, the South Pacific and Australia. Vancouver has been his home since 1985. Maybe you saw him in the Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of “Black and Gold Revue.” He founded the Marcus Mosely Chorale in 2011 and for his huge contribution to music, he has was named to the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame’s StarWalk this year, along with Michael J. Fox, Hal Beckett, Jazzy B and Joe Keithley.
If you have been given the gift of music, use it. Share it. It can be the best gift you have ever given.