Making marimbas and music

Marimba mania continues to spread in Oceanside

Doug Hopwood mentors Jake Shewchuk on how to make marimbas at QBMS.

The deep, rich tone of the marimba echoed through the Bradley Centre last week as seniors listened and watched intently to youth teachers from local band Kumbana Marimba.  

“It’s fun, I enjoy it,” said senior Frank Cave. “It takes while to get the beat but I like the sound of it.”

The project is called Life is a Celebration; Marimba Music for Seniors, made possible by a grant to the Arrowsmith Community Enhancement Society (ACES). Custom built marimbas—a large wooden instrument that resembles a xylophone — made especially for seniors were built as part of the project and lessons are currently being taught at the center in Coombs, owned by the Mid-Island Pensioners & Hobbyists Association.

Another aspect of the project has seniors mentoring students at Qualicum Beach Middle School to build a second set of marimbas, overseen by woodwork teacher David Haynes. These will be available for use throughout district 69.

Grade 8 student Melanie Hardy-Williams has been taking part in the building project, which also involves a bit of music lessons.

“It’s been really fun,” she said. “Because I really love music and I like working with wood.”

Hardy-Williams said she didn’t even know the instruments existed before the project began and she has now learned how to tune them, sand them and make the mallets that strike the keys.

One of the senior mentors at QBMS is Doug Hopwood who has been building marimbas on Lasqueti and on the mainland for 15 years.

There are just a few spaces left for seniors who would like to learn to play the marimbas at the Bradley Centre. There is no cost  and the lessons take places Friday’s at 1:30 or 3:30.

As Cave put it, “you’re never too old to learn something new.”

Call Val Dare for more information at 250-586-6583 or e-mail


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