Teen Zone promotes
local musical talent
Local teen musicians invited to join the Brass Band Project
By Jason Selman
The Brass Band Project – A Short History
About one year and a few months ago, I started a new program for the Westmount YMCA Teen Zone. Initially the program was meant to be a brass band made up of students who play drums or wind instruments. I began planning, made a list of songs to learn in the New Orleans Brass Band tradition, and was lucky enough to find a few teens who played instruments willing to come to rehearsal. I began organizing rehearsals on Friday afternoons. At first things went well and were quite promising, but then things fell apart. Some kids lost interests and it became hard to keep those that were interested. Eventually no one was coming to rehearsal. I was ready to give up. But then I had an idea.
My new plan was to get instruments and then offer beginner lessons at the Teen Zone for whoever wanted.
I decided to start putting the word out that I wanted donations of instruments for the music program. My new plan was to get instruments and then offer beginner lessons at the Teen Zone for whoever wanted. At first things were slow. I got a donation of a trombone from a friend of mine. Then I got a trumpet and two very interesting instruments called alto saxhorns (kind of like a baby tuba, or smaller baritone). Then I got another trumpet and flute. Then I got a drum kit. And lastly I got a guitar. By this point, I was pretty happy. I had a great collection of instruments and I was slowly but surely giving music lessons to interested teens. What really changed things were the drum kit and the guitar.
I play trumpet and have been teaching myself the basics of trombone. Since the saxhorn takes the same mouthpiece as a trumpet, I can play that too. It’s just an adjustment of being in a different register. As much as having these brass instruments available to play, learn and teach is amazing, none of them are as popular as the drums. Everyone loves the drums. They are more accessible than the wind instruments and are enjoyable in a very immediate way. With help from the volunteer who donated the drum kit I have been able to teach myself some the basics of drumming and pass this on to interested youth. I give about two to three drum lessons a week. It gets much more use than the wind instruments. But I haven’t given up on the guitar or the other instruments.
We are lucky enough to have some new teens who are very dedicated to the guitar, drums, flute and trumpet. They come to the center on a regular basis and almost instantly begin to play on their instrument of choice. These new budding musicians are very promising, independent and steadfast.
With a few more eager teens, we will have all the pieces we need to create a wonderful, vibrant Brass Band.
All of this brings me to where the Brass Band Project stands now. At present we need more young people just like the steadfast individuals I have mentioned. In particular, young musicians who live and/or go to school in the Westmount area, who play a musical instrument well and are looking for the challenge of an extracurricular program. With a few more eager teens, we will have all the pieces we need to create a wonderful, vibrant Brass Band. Please spread the word to any teens you think might fit the bill.
About the Teen Zone
The Teen Zone is a space in the City of Westmount Recreation Center (4675 Sainte-Catherine O) for high school aged youth, run by the YMCA in partnership with the City of Westmount. The Teen Zone offers free programs and activities for young musicians, artists, academics, chefs, athletes and more!
For more information about the Teen Zone visit westmount.org
Images: courtesy of Westmount YMCA
Jason Selman is a musician and poet, as well as a Youth Worker at the Westmount YMCA Teen Zone.