Bits ‘n Pieces: Student of Beacock’s takes over New Horizons band

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Everyone has musical ability. Yes, even you, hiding over there behind that tuba — you who never took a lesson or dared hum a note. You can learn to play.

That’s the philosophy behind the Beacock Music “New Horizons” group. New Horizons is a program developed years ago at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. The idea was that retirees who love music but never learned to play an instrument would have the chance at last — and could even play in a friendly, non-intimidating group setting.

Noted music teacher Dale Beacock and his Beacock Music Company started a local New Horizons project in 1997. The effort thrived for years, sprouting both a classical concert band and a jazz band — and it continues to thrive today, despite Beacock’s death in a bicycle accident last summer.

It was Dale Beacock’s son, Russ, who asked Cary Pederson to take over the foundering Beacock New Horizons band. “He said, ‘I don’t want this to disappear. My dad wouldn’t want this to disappear,’” Pederson said.

You could call Pederson one of Dale Beacock’s most personal legacies: Pederson started taking clarinet lessons with Beacock at age 7. Now 32, he sports a master’s degree in music performance, and he’s on the staff at Beacock Music in east Vancouver.

Pederson told Russ Beacock he’d be “completely honored” to take over his teacher’s group — he only hoped they would accept him. But that wasn’t a problem, he reported: “The very first thing everybody said is, you have so much energy and passion and drive, it reminds us of Dale,” he said. He couldn’t ask for a greater compliment, he said.

Working with a group packed with experienced musicians and absolute beginners can be a challenge, Pederson said. That’s why he holds “sectional” rehearsals where he can offer some individual attention — and that’s why the less experienced players sometimes drop out and just listen.

“We have some who’ve been playing for years. We have a few who have never played at all and just want the challenge,” Pederson said. “It’s quite an eclectic group of people, and it’s nothing but fun. That’s my motto: Music has to be fun.”

Currently there are 55 members in the Beacock New Horizons group. Membership costs $25 per month. There are no auditions. You no longer need to be a retiree; adults of any age are welcome. To get involved, contact Gayle Beacock at 360-694-7134 or visit beacockmusic.com. Beacock Music is at 1420 S.E. 163rd Ave. — Scott Hewitt

Bits ’n’ Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you’d like to share, email bits@columbian.com.