Inside the annual School of Performing Arts Music Sale
GWEN PEMBERTON (SHE/HER) // ARTS & CULTURE EDITOR
TIFFANY ZHONG (SHE/HER) // ILLUSTRATOR
The sounds of raucous horns and drums flow through the hallways of the Fir Building on the afternoon of March 16. A jazz ensemble plays with fervor, and a few feet away, the music reaches the ears of students attending the School of Performing Arts Music Sale. They peruse tables laden with boxes upon boxes of sheet music and theory books. Proceeds from the annual event are made available to students enrolled in Capilano University’s Music Diploma program.
A sign posted on the wall states that all books about music are one dollar, as are books of sheet music 99 pages and under. Any books of sheet music over that page count are a whopping two dollars. Settled behind a folding table, overseeing the event, is Geordie Roberts, a professor of CapU’s Faculty of Fine Arts, currently teaching in the jazz and classical programs. He says that all the items on sale are donated by the music department, or people in the community looking to downsize their collections. “It’s a way of providing print music to the students at economical prices,” he said.
Roberts has a point. One student, who has methodically combed through all the books of folk music, leaves with an overflowing armload of material. His total? Six dollars. Salvador Gomez Molinar, a jazz student at CapU, scours the table of music theory books. He says that he’s been looking for books about music that don’t feel like textbooks. Eventually, he finds some to his liking, and heads to the front to make his purchase. Gomez Molinar also attended the sale of CDs and vinyls, another installment of the sale which was held two weeks earlier. “There were some really good finds. I still need to buy a CD player though,” he said.
The music sale used to be an annual event, organized to raise money for the Music Diploma scholarship, but when COVID-19 put a stop to on-campus events, it went on hiatus. No students were around to purchase items from the ever-growing collection. Roberts says this was part of the rationale behind splitting the event into two this year. One for the sale of physical music, and the other for music books.
Inevitably, there are some items which are left over from year to year, but Roberts says those are also going to a good cause. They will be donated to Kofi Gbolonyo, a Jazz Studies instructor at CapU who will be sending unsold items to music instructors in Ghana.
As the afternoon progresses, more and more students flock to the first floor of Fir to see what gold they can find among the stacks of paper. Laughter mixes with percussion and the smell of old pages.
“Can I buy this politically incorrect Christmas album?’ jokes one attendee. In the small space there is a sense of community that can be hard to come by at CapU, and in Vancouver in general. If supporting a good cause and finding stellar bargains weren’t enough to pique students’ interest for the next event, the opportunity to connect with like-minded students may just sway them.