Year six (wow!) of the Bridge program began on October 14 with our annual grade seven introduction class. All of the newly-arrived students—60–70 in total—packed into Hugh John Macdonald’s theatre to witness first-hand what The Bridge is all about.
Emphasis in this class (and the foundation of everything we do at The Bridge) is the importance of rhythm and playing in time with one another. All year we’ll be using our ears and listening to band-mates as rhythmic layers are stacked upon one another. The end result is always extraordinary and, even here at the humble beginning of our journey, I’m impressed with students’ innate sense of rhythm.
We start by clapping a drum beat, the rhythmic bedrock of the song. Once that’s solid, the class is divided: one third remain “drummers,” while the others are split evenly into “bass” and “piano” parts. Each part is different yet, when played together on the same rhythmic plane, it sounds fantastic. From there, volunteers (there are always many!) come up and play those rhythms on their instrument. One class—and we’re making music!
There is a buzz in the school as The Bridge program starts up again. Past success has earned us a reputation amongst the student body and our introductory class only enhances the excitement students already feel. Couple that with enthusiasm from last year’s returning students—who treated the new group to an impromptu performance—and most of these grade seven students will sign up for our voluntary program.
It’s my job, alongside my partner Todd Martin and a collection of U of M students and faculty who drop by to sit in on occasion, to keep them enthusiastic about learning music. With a November 19 performance looming, it’s good to hit the ground running. There is plenty to keep us busy!