Bringing music to a new generation

“It is a valuable experience; as educators we know that music and dance engages the brain and has a positive impact on childhood development.”
– Fiona Somerville, Principal, Palsson Elementary School, Lake Cowichan, B.C.

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To give back to the community and reach a new generation, we run square dance workshops in local schools during festival week featuring a band and a dance caller. Through movement and music, children are able to participate in old-time Appalachian-style dance music, with many exposed to acoustic stringband music for the first time.

The festival has been offering these workshops since 2016 going back to our previous incarnation as the Sooke River Bluegrass Festival. During that period, we have returned more than $350,000 to the local community in festival tickets and reached almost 2,500 students. We continued this tradition when we moved to Laketown Ranch Music Park in 2019.

Our school program, hosted by caller Paul Silveria, features movement and dance suitable for Elementary K–7 and Secondary 8–12. Done in the tradition of old-time Appalachian square dances with fiddle, banjo and upright bass, students are taught fun, basic square dances on the spot, and learn about the history and traditions of a form of music they may have never experienced.

Since 2002, Paul Silveria has been calling traditional square dances at festivals, community centres, schools and other West Coast venues. His calls are energetic and clear, ranging from simple to elaborate — a perfect match for any age from six to sixty.