By Bronwyn Scott
Published: July 13, 2013
The Squamish hills are alive with the spirit of music and giving as Access Music Education, a charity established to help kids pursue their love of music.
It all started in 2005 when several music teachers at Howe Sound Performing Arts noticed that students were dropping out of the lessons they loved because their parents couldn’t afford to keep them enrolled.
Fundraising efforts and the teachers’ contributions have been giving back to those students through annual monetary awards, based on merit, need and the strength of the application.
If it’s apparent that a student might not be able to do their lessons because of financial issues, they are prioritized, said Aaron Purdie, president of Howe Sound Performing Arts Association.
About $2,000 is given out annually.
This year there were five recipients, in past years there have been two or three. The number of beneficiaries depends on how many applications received.
“We’re starting to see that, more and more, families that really can’t afford this are starting to hear about this,” said
“We’re starting to really get the applications we want and that we need.”
Melissa Braun of the Squamish Academy of Music has also helped seven kids with their applications this year.
“They were all incredibly deserving students and all kids who were just really passionate about being able to purse music,” said Braun.
Already the program is turning out success stories from former AME recipients.
Scott Verbeek has gone on to pursue a music degree at Berkeley University of California, and Emma Pedersen studied Music Theatre at Sheridan College in Ontario. She won the Star Showdown at the PNE in 2011.
Over 30 students have been supported by AME, and many have been granted awards more than once.
Fundraising ‘coffee concerts’ by professionals or semi-professionals takes place at the Squamish Academy of Music on the first Saturday of each month, from October to June.
Annual AME concerts are held in November and the bi-annual Star Search concert also supports the program.