Terry Armitage sure has seen and heard a lot of budding guitarists play and practice over the past 36-plus years, including some who’ve gone on to hit big stages, professionally.
The Fleetwood-area resident has taught lessons in Surrey since 1982 – first in the heart of Whalley, then in a building in Guildford and now at his home studio, which he’s called Accent Guitar from the start.
“We’re a staple of Surrey, I think,” said Armitage, who owns the studio and works as head instructor.
These days, his youngest student is aged six, his oldest, 84.
This month, some of them are preparing for a Band Night that Armitage has planned for Sullivan Hall, in a free-admission showcase of his musical students.
The 90-minute evening concert, set for Thursday, April 18, is an event Armitage has revived since last organizing one “many years ago” at the hall in Tynehead.
”We started teaching drums over the last year or two, and so we have some family bands started up,” Armitage said. “It’s fairly relaxed, the concert – just a place to play, because when you’re that age, where else do you play, right?”
Looking back, Armitage sounds proud to have worked with some talented young players over the years.
“The band Good for Grapes, some of them took lessons. Graham (Gomez) now teaches here, and he came through my studio,” Armitage noted.
“Faber Drive, that’s Dave Faber. They got signed to 604 Records, and I worked with him for awhile,” he added.
“There was a Holy Cross student, Christina Rieder, who later changed her name to Rykka.… She was one of my students when she was young, at age 11 or 12, and I took her into nursing homes to perform, that kind of thing. She ended up in Europe, in Switzerland, and was part of the Eurovision song contest a couple years ago.”
Today, Armitage works with young musicians including the three girls in the Sm:)e band. “They’ll be performing (on April 18),” he said, “and we’ve been on tours of B.C. playing schools.
“Another band, this one of 13-year-old boys, is called North Star,” he said, “and they’ll do seven or eight songs, and at least one original. They’re the two main bands I’m working with right now.
“Oh, and another band involves 11-year-olds – three guitar players and a drummer – and they’ll be playing ‘Radioactive’ by Imagine Dragons,” Armitage added.
While admission is free for the musical showcase at Sullivan Hall, spectactors are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items for donation to Surrey Food Bank. The music starts at 7 p.m. at 6306 152nd St., and more details are posted at accentguitar.com.
“It’s for the families, but we welcome anyone to come and bring along a donation for the food bank, and take in a show of local kids performing,” Armitage said.
Annually, the Accent studio also stages summer recitals at Sullivan Hall.
“We used to do those recitals at Tynehead, but something happened and the insurance went a bit crazy so we stopped doing it there, and we’ve been at Sullivan for the last 10 years or so. The band night is where kids get to play in a band and perform, so the recitals are different.”
One band that won’t be performing on April 18 is The Golden Daze Band, which features Armitage as music director and others including vocalist/guitar player Ted Imre, who began taking guitar lessons from Armitage at age 77. That was close to seven years ago, and he’s still rocking songs from the “golden era” of rock ‘n’ roll.
“With that band, we play mostly nursing homes, Legions, places like that – but not in the evenings, those (performances) are during the day. It’s fun,” Armitage said.