Frequently Asked Questions
When do the sessions begin and end?
The fall session runs from the first week of September to mid-December. The spring session runs from the first week of January to about the third week of May. The jazz band ends with the Big Band Dance the first week of June. The website calendar
lists all rehearsals and concerts.
May I join in January?
Absolutely! We start new music in each session so January is good time to start if you missed the September start. If you join in January, you only pay the spring session fee.
May I start mid-session?
Perhaps! We would prefer that you join our ensembles at the start of each session (September or January). This way, we all learn the music and the director’s musical interpretation of the pieces together. If you join late, you might not have all the information you need to play or sing in-step with the rest of the group. Having said that, if you are a strong instrumentalist, or you have a lot of choir experience and can quickly memorize the pieces, talk to the ensemble director. We may be able to accommodate you if we’re still early in the session.
I understand that the ensembles are non-auditioned. How much experience/musical knowledge do I need to join?
The bands play about Grade 3-4 band music level which is equivalent to approximately Royal Conservatory Music grades 6-8 or about the level of a high school Grade 10/11 band. If you’ve been away from your instrument for many years, practice at home (or with a teacher) until you have recovered much of your ability. After that, we hope you’ll attend a rehearsal or two to see how it goes. If you feel that you fit in talk to the director about becoming a member. If you’re struggling to keep up, then consider doing some more solo practice. Take your time to work up to our level, and then try again at the start of the next session. It doesn’t hurt to try!
While we don’t have auditions, we do expect you to do what’s best for both you and the ensemble. We have all gone through the same fear about joining a new band, so we promise to be friendly and welcoming. Many of us have had long breaks from our instruments and we’re happy to report that even after many years of not playing, the skills often come back quickly.
If you are a beginner, talk to us. We periodically run a beginner band (called The Undercurrents) when there are enough players to support it. If there is no beginner band this year, an alternative is to join a lower level band with the Westwinds Music Society in Calgary, and then join us after your skills have developed.
CHOIR: We are looking for people who love singing and know a little about music. You do not need to have prior experience to join the choir but you should have some familiarity with reading music. Some people are able to learn by ear but it is difficult for them to practice at home if they cannot read music. Our choir director at times puts audio files of the vocal parts on our website to assist practicing at home. Also, the music can be found online. So come! Join us for a couple of rehearsals and see if you like it. If you do, then talk to our director about becoming a member. It’s a lot of fun!
May I come and watch a rehearsal or two?
Yes. If you’re nervous about playing/singing after a long time away from music, sitting in on a rehearsal is a good way to learn about us. You’ll see that that we have a lot of fun.
Will you be welcoming and non-judgmental if I come to a rehearsal?
Definitely! We welcome new members and want nothing more than for you to have a pleasant time on your first visit with us. Members will help with constructive criticism, in all kindness. Expect to be welcomed with a smile!
My work/other responsibilities would cause me to miss a number of rehearsals. Is this a problem?
We pride ourselves on having well-rehearsed and great-sounding ensembles. The only way to do this is for our members to make a commitment to come to rehearsals regularly. If, from the outset, you think you’re going to miss from time to time, then join us when your life has calmed down.
Are the fees prorated for people who start late?
Yes, fees are prorated by the full month. For example, a person who started in any week of October would have their fees prorated to the beginning of October.
Will I have to do fundraising or volunteer work?
This society is run by volunteers. The only way we can operate is by the volunteer efforts of our members The role you play is based on your skills, abilities and time. When you register, we ask you to commit to one or more tasks such as:
- loading and setting up equipment for performances
- helping to sell tickets, decorate and run the dance
- organizing workshops
- working occasional casinos
- filling the role of a Board director
- being a music librarian or photographer
- tidying the music room after rehearsals
Do I need my own instrument to join a band?
You need to have your own instrument to play and practice. If you don’t own an instrument we can suggest a company that rents instruments. Percussionists use the band room instruments for rehearsals and performances, but require their own equipment for practicing at home.
Do you accept members younger than 18 years of age?
CMS is currently inviting occasional Associate Members. An Associate Member is a high school age student invited to fill a needed role in an ensemble, auditioned by the Music Director during the first rehearsal attended and subject to ongoing approval by the Music Director. Associate Members pay no membership fee and have no vote in Cochrane Music Society. They participate in CMS rehearsals, workshops and performances. A CMS liability waiver must be signed by the Associate Member’s parent or guardian.