Devon Clifford band camp gives young adults opportunity for music lessons

Local foundation provides resources to help young people gain access to music lessons and practice in a band

  • May. 19, 2013 6:00 a.m.
Members of Hallow Symphony perform at the Bakerview Centre for Learning talent show

Members of Hallow Symphony perform at the Bakerview Centre for Learning talent show

It had always been Justice’s dream to be the lead singer in a band, and the Devon Clifford Memorial Foundation rock camps gave her that chance. The 16-year-old Grade 10 student is fronting a group with her fellow classmates at Bakerview Centre for Learning, as part of a program that provides music lessons to youth.

“The first time we (played together) I realized I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.”

The group gathers for the camp in “The Hub” – a portable classroom behind the learning centre – twice a week for lessons and rehearsal. The camp’s four instructors hold individual lessons with the five students, before bringing them together to practice as a band.

Brittany Driedger, facilitator of the rock camps and a multi-instrumentalist, encourages the students as they play, telling them each run-through is better than the last. The band – called Hallow Symphony – includes a vocalist, bassist, guitarist, keyboardist, and a drummer.

Driedger said many of the students may not have a musical background, but they are eager to learn and enthusiastic.

The camps are funded by the Devon Clifford Memorial Foundation – a local organization that provides music lessons to youth who may not otherwise have access to them. The foundation was created to honour the memory of Devon Clifford – drummer of Abbotsford band You Say Party –  who passed away in 2010 following a brain hemorrhage.

Devon’s parents, Edna and Ron, started the foundation in his memory. Edna said Devon had a lifelong love of music and when not touring with his band, he worked with the Portland Hotel Society, an organization that provides shelter for Vancouver’s homeless population. Edna said the foundation combines two things Devon loved – helping others and music.

“Devon would be really happy. He really liked kids that are edgy and different.”

Edna said the foundation also aims to support the local music community by paying the instructors instead of relying solely on volunteers.

“We really believe in paying the teachers. It’s really hard when you’re a musician to make any money at all.”

She said they knew they wanted the program to focus on giving individual lessons, but also helping the students to play in a band.

“Our goal was to provide music lessons to teenagers… but also to give them the experience of a band, because it is a co-operative experience.”

The members of Hallow Symphony encourage each other as they practice, commenting on how they’ve each improved. For some, they’ve only recently taken up their instruments – but their improvements have been drastic.

Jen Wickman, the school counsellor at Bakerview, suggested students to the program based on their interest in music and helped them with their applications. She said she is happy to have the program based at Bakerview and the students are enjoying it.

“They’re absolutely loving it. It makes them feel important … it’s building their confidence.”

Justice has finally got to experience being a lead singer, and said she hopes the camps continue in order to give other students the same experience.

“It gives kids an opportunity to do what they want to do, if only for a short while.”

The students performed recently at their school’s talent show. The Cliffords attended and show, Edna said they were so proud to see the students perform.

Wickman said the students were thrilled to be able to perform for their school and it meant a lot to the students to perform for the Cliffords.

“I thought they really came together as a group… they put on a really good show.”

The members of Hallow Symphony will continue on with the camp into June, and summer camps will be organized for interested stdents.

Students who show a lot of musical promise in the rock camps can be offered private lessons funded by the organization. For now, Edna said they want to find more students interested in the camps, and are looking for advanced students and beginners to create summer camp programs for a variety of skill levels.

For anyone who feels they – or their child or student – would benefit from the Devon Clifford rock camps and would like to begin the application process, contact Brittany Driedger at: 604-556-1175.