A longtime Williams Lake resident, music teacher, chamber member and ski patrol volunteer is still singing praises for the lakecity community after recently relocating to Vernon.
“While this move was planned it did not go the way we had imagined in our wildest dreams,” said Angela Sommer, owner of Angelkeys Music Studio.
She and her husband, Carlos, originally slated to move to their new home in the Okanagan toward the end of summer, however, the COVID-19 pandemic recently forced her to go online with her voice- and piano-teaching music business, making the decision to leave as they had purchased a home just prior to the unfolding situation.
“I just feel like I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to the community, and to my clients,” she said.
Sommer, who was born in Germany but had been living in Surrey with her husband and two young children, moved the family to Williams Lake in 1993 when work became available in the area.
She soon became heavily involved in the community including over 10 years as a member and, for a time, president of the Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce, a ski patrol volunteer at Mt. Timothy Ski Area, music teacher and, recently, the provincial representative for the Cariboo Festival.
“We initially came for five years and just never left, and it ended up being 27,” she said. “Williams Lake will always be a home for me. I’ve had multiple homes in my life — moving to Canada from Europe — but Williams Lake is such a wonderful community and I loved every minute I was there. I just wanted to say thank you to the community for all the wonderful years.”
She said it has been a long-time dream for her and her husband to eventually retire in the Okanagan, however, noted she will always hold Williams Lake near and dear to her heart.
Sommer’s passion for performing arts, and teaching voice and piano began at a young age.
She started taking piano lessons at the age of six, and said she was “singing everywhere” in the meantime.
“By the time I was 10 I had a voice teacher, and started teaching when I was 15,” she said. “I was 19 when I moved to Canada and had been working in Vancouver as a nanny.”
During that time she attended school at the BC Institute of Technology where she took operations management and worked a number of years in the aircraft management industry.
“When I had kids I thought: ‘I have to change something’ and went back to teaching music.”
She opened Angelkeys Music Studio as a home-based business in 1995 after moving to Williams Lake. It became a full-time job by the time her children had reached school age.
“I had a studio at my home in 150 Mile House, and then I rented the basement of the Anglican Church two to three days a week,” she said.
She said over the past couple of years there were several factors that changed their lives. Carlos, for health reasons, was forced to retire and, Sommer said, the novel coronavirus pandemic was the breaking point.
“I’d lost my teaching location [because of the pandemic] and we’d sold our house and were living at a friend’s house, we’d bought something in Vernon and I’d moved my entire business online, so we decided to go ahead with it.”
Sommer is still teaching all of her students from Williams Lake online, and said she would always welcome more.
“I’m teaching online until September and we’ll revisit to see what happens in the future. For Williams Lake students it will be online, but as soon as I can do in-person I’ll be coming up regularly for in-person sessions, as well, for a week, to a few days, depending on how things go.”
She said while she’s always had some students who she’s taught online due to their long distance from the city, moving fully online has been “tiring on the brain.”
“I’ve really had to work with the setup and how I’m doing it, getting used to all the electronics the students have to learn, how to get good audio, and having them be able to setup the Zoom sessions and things like that,” she said. “Also people in some of the rural areas have lousy Internet, so that’s been a bit of a struggle.”
Otherwise, she said lessons have been going well, and she’s optimistic for the fall where she predicts she’ll be shifting into a hybrid method of teaching split between in-person and online lessons. She’s also still meeting with her Just for Fun Choir in Williams Lake for virtual singing sessions weekly.
“I think this whole thing [with COVID-19] is going to open up the ability to do things beyond small communities which, in my opinion, is not a bad thing,” she said. “Like, if you don’t have a voice teacher, or a piano teacher and now the kids are getting used to doing things online, you could branch out to find someone who does offer it.”
Sommer said anyone looking to get a hold of her or to register for online lessons through Angelkeys Music Studio can do so by visiting her website at www.angelkeys.ca. She is also on Facebook at Angelkeys Music Studio.