When Leaside musician Cynda Fleming agreed to lead a community jazz band to give kids an opportunity to play music together, she didn’t realize how difficult it would be to find music that fit all skill levels.
As a result, “I write every part for every kid,” she says. “It means that every student can be successful, and that things will work well on a musical level.”
There’s no cost to the kids, and although paid an honorarium by Leaside United Church for her work, Fleming gladly contributes many extra hours because of the results.
“I often rewrite parts between rehearsals if they need tweaking. The students really appreciate being part of the compositional process.”
Fleming remembered keeping one young flute player’s part to three notes for the entire year: “I tried to increase it to five, but she just wasn’t ready.”
That gives the band, C-flats, a unique sound with interesting rhythms.
Now in its 11th year, the church’s outreach program has helped dozens of pre-teens and teens “connect through music” and build confidence.
Fleming, who teaches private trumpet and piano lessons in Leaside, took on the job as leader while finishing her Master of Music degree at the University of Toronto. Her trumpet professor, Jeff Reynolds, had received an email from a mother at Leaside United looking for a suitable leader for the group.
Fleming has lived in Leaside for 12 years,with her husband and two kids. With deep Leaside connections (her grandmother, Mabel Mist, taught at Bessborough), the community holds a special connection for her.
Although the main purpose of the group is to make music together, the C-flats are also expected to “give back” by performing four to five times a year at special occasions. Many of the kids also volunteer at events through the year.
“There is absolutely no pressure about church, “says Fleming. “The group is open to anyone, of any religion, who wants to make music.”
She adds that some have started attending the local youth group as a result and the band certainly introduces kids into the church community regardless of their background.
Now that fall has begun, C-flats is gearing up for a new season, beginning this month. The group is non-auditioned and ideally suited for kids from grades 8 to 12. New members are welcome as long as they like music and commit to showing up. Some are in bands at school, but for others it’s their only chance to play an instrument in a group.
Rehearsals are Thursdays 5:15–6 p.m. at the church from October to December and March to May. www.trumpetstudio.ca/.