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Musicians grow with Victoria College's evolving music program

By by timothy dangerspecial to the advocate
Oct. 10, 2012 at 5:10 a.m.

Jona Anderson leads the Victoria College jazz and commercial groups as they simultaneously share a stage at a recent live performance downtown.

My friendship with Jona Anderson began a few years ago when I auditioned for a music scholarship. There I was, 33 years old, when I sat at a piano and sang "Dracula's Lament." When I was done, he asked me why I wanted to go back to school for music, and I told him, "To be a better musician." I guess it must have made an impression on him because years later, I got to know his master plan.

"I've been wanting to build something like this 15 years ago, when I first got here," Anderson said. What Anderson is referring to is the ever evolving music program for Victoria College. A program that not only takes kids who have studied band or choir in high school, but also kids who play in garage bands, or independently have taught themselves to the point they may need instruction to teach themselves more.

With performance groups like the VC Jazz Combo and most recently, The Commercial Music group, students from all music backgrounds ranging from band students to gigging musicians can come together, explore theory and ear training, then put it together by playing music.

The biggest change came this year, as songwriting was introduced as part of regular classroom time. Students pair up and come up with the seeds of a song for the band to work on as a group, something up until this semester was unheard of.

The group will continue to evolve more, however, proving there is no limit to the things students can learn, maybe even adding recording and business to the class.

"That's the whole point of anybody being here," Anderson said. "We've all had experiences that we can share to make ourselves better."

Confident in his pool of students, he commented on the number of musicians in the area.

"There is so much talent in this area. How can we help them develop their talent to explore their options outside Victoria, if that's what they want?"

"Music transcends as a nonverbal means of communication. It's the one style of communication that transcends all languages." Anderson said, "You don't have to understand each other to understand music."

Timothy Danger is the music and content director as well as a co-host of the Old Man and Bitter Girl Podcast, which focuses on independent music, art and culture. He is also a musician.

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