Music school finds a fitting home

Sidney Community Music School finds new locations around Saanich Peninsula

It’s been a tough year for the Sidney Community Music School, facing music that hasn’t been so sweet.

For more than 20 years, the after-school music program had been operating out of a large, refurbished barn on the property of owner Ann-Marie Thompson. Complete with multiple soundproof studios, the barn was a perfect fit for teaching the almost three generations of students that learned music through the school.

Then, last September, Thompson received a notice from North Saanich saying that the barn was too big to comply with the size restrictions on a home-based business. Therefore, the notice said, Thompson would have to move out or shut down.

“North Saanich really worked hard for us to fit in,” said Thompson, “but the barn is done, and never will come back.”

However, as Thompson points out, the school was too small to jump to a large commercial-sized building. As well, renting out space at a community centre or church was too expensive for the school’s short, mainly after school, operating hours.

“We got creative … is there a way for us to fit?” said Thompson.

Meanwhile, lessons still had to be held somehow. So, this past year, four temporary studios, spread out across the Peninsula, as well as two in Thompson’s home replaced the old barn.

“We did what we could out of those,” she said.

But it was through that temporary fix that a solution was found.

In May, the decision was made to branch out the music school by operating out of satellite studios all under the umbrella of the Sidney Community Music School.

When the school reconvenes in September, they will have nine fully operational studios hosting lessons across the Peninsula, and another one under construction

After a year-long ordeal, the feedback they received from the students was the “most affirming thing,” said Thompson.

“It shows it doesn’t matter where the lessons are held, that the most important thing is the relationship between the student and teacher.”

To register for lessons in the fall, email sidneymusic@shaw.ca or call 250-655-4462.