The Whitehorse United Church basement is filled – amidst chatter and laughter – with the sounds of setup.
Somewhere a guitar is being tuned; elsewhere the “Check one, two; check, ch
eck, check one, two” is heard as microphones are readied for the Folk Society night.
What an appropriate setting for an interview about the Yukon Winter Music Camp.
Lynn Poile is a member of the organizing committee and, tonight, her children (Kieran, 14 and Graeme, 17) are playing violin and guitar in a group called Come Eat a Cat, a jazz and swing ensemble.
That’s why Poile is excited about the opportunities provided by the Yukon Winter Music Camp.
And there’s something unique about this year’s Camp: “It’s both classical and non-classical.
“One of the highlights this year,” Poile says, “is that for the first time it’s featuring both the Suzuki Strings Association and Suzuki guitar.
“That’s why it’s very special this year.”
Poile anticipates 100 or more participants from age three to older adults.
“There are workshops in piano accompaniment as well as rhythm for younger children.
“And a variety of fiddle classes.
“Bob Hamilton is doing an ensemble band … and there is an introduction to guitar for strings players [a new course this year] as well as other guitar-technique classes.”
The laughter and chatter have grown as musicians warm up, but Poile doesn’t miss a beat as she continues.
“[There are] diverse musical opportunities for youth,” she says, adding that although the Camp is geared toward children and youth, there’s really no age limit.
Poile hopes to see Whitehorse youth partnering with youth from other Yukon communities in the Camp, which has an instructional focus.
“I think there’s a really nice fit because there is a formal Suzuki guitar program or there is a formal Suzuki violin program.
“This Camp is bringing together the two programs … it’s [about] sharing and musical growth.”
Noon-hour concerts, a ‘lunch and listen’, will be led by the Camp’s instructors, at Yukon College.
The roundup of artists and instructors coming for the Yukon Winter Music Camp begins with Gordon Stobbe, the featured performer in the Air North Fiddle Show, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. at the Yukon Arts Centre. He will also be the caller for a barn dance at the Old Fire Hall on Feb. 21.
Stobbe imparts encouragement as he shares his earliest recollection of inspiration at the age of six while watching a local dance band in northern Saskatchewan: “I knew I wanted to be a player when I grew up because, of all the people in the dance hall, the band was having the best time.
“Over the years I’ve been re-inspired many times: in later years by the great older fiddlers I met as host of a television show in the Maritimes.
“I do a lot of workshops where I work hard at trying to pass on my passion for fiddle music of all kinds. I hope that people will experience my love of the rhythm and energy of dance music and my huge appreciation for the wide variety of fiddle styles in Canada.
“Fiddle music can be a career, a way to express yourself, a hobby, a part-time job as player and teacher, a great way to spend a Saturday night with friends.”
Philip Kashap, Suzuki violin instructor, also shares a vignette from his musical repertoire of inspiration: “My most inspirational teacher was probably a teacher I had [for] a few summers when I was a teenager.
“He was a sort of odd man, though, and would sometimes teach lying down. But he taught three students in one three-hour lesson and taught us every morning.
“He could be complimentary or fierce, depending on how much and how well we had practised.
I remember he was a great player, but mainly that he could teach a ‘stone’ to play the violin.
Other visiting performers and instructors include Louise Stuppard (Suzuki violin), Martha Kashap (Suzuki violin) and Mark Richardson and Derek Sterling (guitar).