The Vancouver Island Music Academy takes a holistic approach to learning and playing music. We believe that being a musician is more than just playing an instrument at a high level. Regardless of age or experience, every student at VIMA learns how to be the most complete and versatile musician possible. This is reflected by the enormous breadth of our class offerings.

Strings Private Lessons

Students who register for the Strings Program at VIMA will receive a minimum of six private lessons with faculty members. Students will have the opportunity to indicate the teacher(s) of their choice during the application process, and every effort will be made to match them with their choices. For students who wish to have more than six private lessons during the two-week Academy, this will be accommodated with a surcharge of $150 CAD per additional private lesson.

All string students who register for Private Lessons will automatically be registered for Orchestra, Chamber Music/Ensembles, and the Scales/Etudes/Technique Class. All other courses will be optional for string students. Students will have the opportunity to register for any other courses offered by VIMA during the application process.

Piano Private lessons

Students who register for the Piano Program at VIMA will receive a minimum of six private lessons with faculty members. Students will have the opportunity to indicate the teacher(s) of their choice during the application process, and every effort will be made to match them with their choices. For students who wish to have more than six private lessons during the two-week Academy, this will be accommodated with a surcharge of $150 CAD per additional private lesson.

All piano students who register for Private Lessons will automatically be registered for Chamber Music/Ensembles, Scales/Etudes/Technique Class, and the Choral Class. All other courses will be optional for piano students. Students will have the opportunity to register for any other courses offered by VIMA during the application process.

Collaborative Piano

Any student will have the option of registering from the Collaborative Piano Program during the application process. The Program provides training for pianists who are committed to collaborative arts and are considering a career in this area. The term “collaborative arts” includes any area of piano performance that involves more than solo piano (vocal and instrumental accompanying, duo work, orchestral piano, piano chamber music, etc.).

Students may participate in orchestral performance, instrumental collaborations (studio accompanying and performances in various venues), and contemporary works with various ensembles. Subjects covered range from sight reading and score reading, to instrumental repertoire, interpretative skills, and varying other aspects of a professional accompanist’s work.

Composition

The Composition Class at VIMA will offer an exciting experience for young musicians of all levels with a passion for composing, writing and discovering new music, and an interest in developing their compositional technique. The format and content of the class will be at the discretion of the leading faculty member.

Conducting

VIMA is offering a unique opportunity for young musicians to gain hands-on experience and expert tuition in conducting. Our conducting program will encompass all the essential rehearsal and performance aspects for the aspiring conductor. Topics to be covered include: score reading and preparation; score analysis and its historical context; baton technique; rehearsal and time management technique; controlling, shaping and phrasing techniques through hand gestures.

Choral

While all piano students are automatically registered for the Choral Class, any student may wish to enrol as well. This class is integral to the development of a musician. It is designed to improve a student’s solo/ensemble (choir) singing and solfege abilities, as well as exploring a diverse range of choral styles. Students will have the opportunity to sing solo and in a choir setting.

Music Theatre

A superb class to be paired with the Choral class, the Musical Theatre Program serves as an introduction to the magnificent world of Broadway singing and acting. Students of all ages work to build their performance skills and stage confidence. They will also have the opportunity to showcase their achievements in a fully staged show at one of the final concerts of the Academy.

Improvisation

During the 17th-19th centuries, it would be commonplace for performers to improvise Cadenzas and short pieces in a concert! The art of improvisation has largely been forgotten and neglected in the recent past, and thus all students are highly encouraged to enrol for the Improvisation Class, and it is one of the most important ones offered at the Academy. This class will greatly enhance the overall musicianship of each student. Skills and techniques needed for improvisation in any musical genre will be discussed at length. Students will also look forward to participating or spectating in the Improvisation Competition during the Academy.

Chamber Music and Ensembles

Students who are registered for the Chamber Music and Ensembles Program at VIMA will receive a minimum of six coachings with faculty members. Placement is established according to the student’s chamber music experience that was described in the application form. At the discretion of the Director and Faculty, students may be moved from groups as necessary due to individual music ability, group dynamics, and/or coaching preference. Most students will be assigned to one chamber music group for the duration of the Academy. Some strings and piano students will have two groups.

Chamber music groups will consist of duets, trios, quartets, quintets, sextets, and octets if necessary. Advanced students are responsible to schedule and manage their own daily rehearsals, but scheduling help is available for the younger groups. There will be a chamber music competition for a performance spot in one of the final concerts of the Academy.

Orchestra

All strings students are automatically registered to the Orchestra Program. There will be several chamber orchestras of varying levels in the Academy. Placement in an orchestra will be determined by the short recording that accompanies each student’s application.

The orchestras will perform regularly in various on-campus venues. The rehearsal and performance schedule is rigorous, and performances are at a professional standard.

The orchestras will be coached and conducted by select faculty members and guest conductors. Soloists will include guest artists, faculty members, and student competition winners.

Orchestral Audition Preparation Class

Open to strings students, this class is specifically designed for those aiming to audition for an orchestra. Those wishing to audition for a professional orchestra, or even a youth orchestra, will find incredible value in registering for this class. Led by Concertmasters and Principal players of major orchestras, the setting for the class will mimic a “masterclass”; each student will play orchestral excerpts for the faculty member whilst the other students listen and watch. Apart from the orchestral excerpts, there will be much time devoted to discussing the “art” of auditioning, as well as preparing for an audition.

Masterclasses

There will be numerous Masterclasses throughout the Academy which are led by select faculty. Every student will have the invaluable opportunity to perform in a Masterclass. Please indicate your willingness to perform in a masterclass in the application form. The faculty member who leads the class will make the final determination of who performs and the repertoire they will play. Every masterclass is open for everyone, and students are encouraged to attend each class to hear the thoughts and ideas of faculty members other than their regular teacher, as well as support other students who are playing.

Scales, Etudes, Technique Class

Every instrumental student is automatically registered for the Scales, Etudes, and Technique Class, as it is one of the most important ones offered at VIMA. This class will offer tremendous insight into the fundamentals of instrumental playing. There will be a class for strings students, and a separate class for piano students. The class will be arranged in a workshop setting, where every student will have an opportunity to play and ask questions pertaining to instrumental technique. The faculty member leading the class might also have a focus topic for a class, and the entire workshop would be centred around that topic.

Ear Training, Rhythm, Theory/Harmony

Students are highly encouraged to register for the Ear Training, Rhythm, Theory/Harmony class. This class will introduce and cover all the basic skills and techniques required for any musician. Topics to be covered include: development of ear training skills through performance and dictation; study of melodies, intervals, harmony, and solfege in major and minor keys; development of sight-singing skills; study of rhythms, meters, conducting patterns, and notation; keyboard harmony; part singing; contrapuntal and harmonic dictation.

Seminars and Lessons in Alexander Technique

Playing an instrument is a highly physical endeavour. Like athletes, many musicians suffer from a variety of ailments such as back pain and sore necks and shoulders. As a musician, it is therefore crucial to have strategies in place to alleviate excess tension from the body. These seminars and lessons in Alexander Technique are especially designed for musicians and will cover a variety of ways to get rid of harmful tension in the body. Every single musician, regardless of age, level or instrument would highly benefit from each one of these seminars.

Alexander Technique enhances musicians’ ability to express themselves fully through their instrument. It provides performers with a set of principles that invite exploration and self-discovery of habits as musicians learn to think about themselves as well as the music they play. As musicians learn the Alexander Technique, they become aware of their internal and external environments, they learn to use themselves efficiently and effectively in daily activities and while playing their instrument.  Alexander lessons focus on: 1) how our physical structure (bones, muscles, nervous system) impacts playing; 2) how our thinking and feelings impact playing; 3) how to practice the instrument efficiently and systematically and 4) how to bridge the practice room and the stage when weperformance.  Alexander Technique provides a structure that encourages musicians to recognize and analyze obstacles (like unnecessary tension, fear, or pain), and then provides them with specific tools to overcome their obstacles to be able to fully express themselves through their instrument.

 

Competitions

There will be three competitions during the 2-week Academy: Scales Competition, Improvisation Competition, and Chamber Music Competition. Participation in these competitions is not mandatory, but is highly encouraged. The Scales and Improvisation Competitions will offer cash awards, and the Chamber Music Competition will offer spots in the final Gala Concert in the T. Gill Bunch Theatre Concert Hall. More information on these competitions will be announced during the Academy.