Total Ice Training Centre on Mackenzie Avenue echoes with more than the sound of sticks, blades and rebounding pucks this summer; on Tuesday nights there is also the sound of music.
Two beginner guitar classes, taught by Dena Baumann, meet once a week, and Baumann says the response has been incredible.
“I think the appeal of guitar is that you can pick it up and play by yourself: you don’t need to join a band or anything,” she explained. “It’s a very accessible instrument and people are drawn to it: everybody likes a guitar around a campfire.”
The classes provide a safe environment for people who like the group dynamic; there is no pressure.
“This is built for people who have never played a guitar before, or maybe had a lesson 10 years ago and want to take it up again,” she continued.
This project got started last spring, when Baumann offered to start a class with some of her friends, who had been asking if she would teach them to play. She said the response surprised her.
“The class filled up in three days; it was fantastic and I learned so much,” she stated. “Guitar is the gateway instrument and it’s a great way to share music together. It’s not orchestrated or artificially set up: you just start playing a guitar and singing and other people join in.”
Her spring guitar class was all women friends, but she opened it up to everyone this summer.
She said feedback has been super positive.
“It’s so rewarding; a lot of women who have taken the class have had a hard time carving time for themselves and some of them want to play songs for their kids.
“This is a way for them to learn something new, be creative and social,” she added.
“At our spring class windup we had 15 people playing and singing around a campfire: there’s nothing like that in the world.”
Baumann has been teaching for 18 years.
She’s run a youth program at a teen drop-in center, been a teacher on call, taught middle school band, as well as high school and jazz bands and musical theatre at Williams Lake Secondary School, taught Grade 7 beginner band and elementary music at all the School District 27 schools in the Williams Lake area.
She said that in the guitar classes she does as much theory as people want. “We learn the most popular major and minor chords and how to understand them; we learn strumming patterns, proper hand technique and how use a tuner and a capo,” she explained. “We learn how to listen to each other, keep time and play with other people.
“We do a little 12 bar blues, a little finger picking and everybody gets to pick a song or two. It’s important when you’re learning to choose a song you adore.”
Baumann said that in the fall she plans to hold a once-a-month drop in for anyone from the spring or summer sessions.
“My goal is to run part two sessions for people who took the first sessions and for anyone with a general knowledge of chords,” she added.
“What I wish for everyone is that they enjoy themselves and finish these classes feeling empowered, confident and with the skill set to share with someone else.”