National acclaim for seniors marimba project

You're never too old to learn how to make music

A local program to teach seniors the marimba

A project where seniors in Oceanside learn how to play the marimbas has been recognized by Human Resources Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), as a national success story.

The New Horizons for Seniors project which was launched last spring was called Life is a Celebration; Marimba Music for Seniors and was made possible by a $24,000 grant.

Arrowsmith Community Enhancement Society (ACES) received the money from HRSDC to fund  a set of custom marimbas — a large wooden instrument that resembles a xylophone — which were designed especially for seniors.

Not only did the program bring generations together around Oceanside in a musical program, it was also deemed a national success and will be featured on the HRSDC website.

HRSDC’s mission is to build a stronger and more competitive Canada, to support Canadians in making choices that help them live productive and rewarding lives, and to improve Canadians’ quality of life.

Val Dare, who co-founded the intergenerational project and got approval for the grant with Marilynn Sims, said because the project was so successful they have decided to keep it going with the remaining grant money.

“People loved it. Out of the 17 who took the class, 13 are continuing on,” she said.

The marimbas are housed at the Bradley Centre in Coombs.

That is where classes were taught to seniors by members of Kumbana Marimba, a local youth ensemble back in March.

The classes are back and while two of them are filled, there is one more class with vacancies.

Dare said they have two classes that have started and would like to fill a third one.

From now until November 25 the weekly one hour free seniors classes will be held every Friday except November 11.

The 1 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. slots are full but Dare said there is room for up to eight people in a class which will run from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Dare said she hopes the project ultimately builds more infrastructure for programs like this to continue in the area, providing opportunities for collaboration between all kinds of people, even those who aren’t musically inclined.

“They don’t have to be musicians to begin with,” she said.

“They can all contribute and make music that is really fun to make and enjoyable to listen to.”

Those interested in the weekly program at the Bradley Centre can contact Val Dare at or call 250-586-6583.




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