Having just opened in March of this year, Judith Quinlan hopes that Studio 261 on South Shore Road becomes a central hub for music and performing arts in Lake Cowichan.
“This is all new,” said Quinlan. “September is when we plan to get going full tilt.”
She has many ideas she is beginning to set in motion, all with the basic concept of appreciating and sharing the love of music and the performing arts.
“I live in Honeymoon Bay, so I first opened a studio there. But I’m hoping for this to become a place where if anyone who’s looking for any sort of music lessons they come here first. If we can’t provide the lessons here, we’ll know who can,” said Quinlan.
So one of her ideas is to start a performers’ registry where Cowichan Lake area residents can find the type of entertainment they need for any event.
“Because there’s nowhere anyone goes. And there are a lot of talented people in the area and people just find them by word of mouth.”
To that end, she has someone helping her build a website that will include available acts, as well as the list of music teachers at the studio, and an arts calendar that is just meant for the Cowichan Lake area. Quinlan hopes the website will be launched in mid-September.
The studio space is available for free to any art group, and Quinlan says she only charges 10 per cent of the admission to events. For example, the Kaatza Lakeside Players auditions for A Christmas Carol will take place in the studio on September 11, 12, and 13, and Quinlan herself is part of a women’s choir that practices there as well.
The women’s choir was started in January, and the group meets every Monday evening from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Quinlan says they have 10 members right now, but new members are always welcome.
“We have lots of fun and we are definitely looking [for new members]. It’s not an audition choir . . . it’s just for fun.”
As for music lessons, for both kids and adults, the music teachers who have committed to working out of Studio 261 are Darryl Alsbrook teaching guitar, Mary Lowther teaching clarinet and flute, and Quinlan herself who teaches piano, vocal, and theory.
“And we’re looking for more teachers. I’m especially looking for a drum teacher and a fiddle/violin teacher,” said Quinlan. “So I want to put a call out to the community, if anyone out there wants to come and teach.”
Lessons with instructors are pre-booked, as the studio does not have regular open hours, however there are blocks set aside for after school lessons.
“For example, on Mondays Darryl is teaching guitar, and I’m teaching on Tuesday afternoons and sometimes Friday mornings, and Mary doesn’t have any students yet.”
Quinlan adds that Lowther lives in Mesachie Lake and is willing to teach at her home or at the studio.
“Darryl, same thing. He lives in Youbou. So this is kind of nice for the music teachers who are little away, because it gives them a place to have their Lake Cowichan students,” said Quinlan.
Teachers set their own rates, but Quinlan says that the average is about $20 for a half hour lesson.
“We’re all willing to do group rates and family rates,” she adds.
Another ongoing event Quinlan has put together at the studio is what she is calling Friday Coffeehouses. On set Fridays at 7 p.m., throughout the fall, there will be different art or performance related activities for all to enjoy.
These activities include movie nights happening on Sept. 21, and Oct. 19; spoken word/poetry nights on Sept. 28, and Oct. 26; theatre games on Oct. 5 and Nov. 2; and music night on Oct. 12 and Nov. 9.
For more information, to book a lesson, or to request use of the space for either rehearsals, meetings, performances, gallery shows, or workshops, call Quinlan at 250-749-3728.