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Strings Program

The Jamieson Strings Program



Strings Program Director:   Mr. James Colpitts


Dr. Annie B. Jamieson Elementary is the home of Canada's largest school string orchestra program.  More than 260 of Jamieson's intermediate students learn to play the violin, cello, or bass.


Students join the program when they are in grade 4.  Strings students participate in twice-weekly classes that are a regular part of the school timetable.  More than 95% of the students have never played a string instrument when they enter the program, but by the time Jamieson’s orchestra students reach the end of grade 7, they will have learned to play more than 100 pieces of music and will have performed in more than a dozen concerts.  Their musical journey takes them from being complete beginners into the physically, intellectually and emotionally challenging world of music and performance.


With a reputation for both excellence and fun, Jamieson’s orchestras play repertoire chosen to include a wide variety of styles that appeal to young players.  The students play everything from Irish reels to Chinese folk songs, video game music, classical favourites and newly-composed orchestral works.  Students develop their musicianship skills through the fun of playing in orchestras, small ensembles and as soloists.  Students learn about orchestral techniques and skills, how to follow a conductor, various bowing styles, rhythms, pitch, reading music notation and more.


Jamieson's strings students are composers.   All of the students write and perform at least two of their own compositions during their four years in the program.  The finest pieces are performed by student soloists, ensembles and orchestras.   Jamieson student composers have twice won, and twice been runners-up in the national Don Wright Composition Competition.


In addition to the Beginner (grade 4), Intermediate (grade 5), and Senior (grade 6/7) orchestras, the Jamieson Strings Program offers a number of extra-curricular groups for students who desire additional opportunities to play music together.  Over the past decade, those extra-curricular groups have included the award-winning Grade 7 and Grade 6 Advanced Orchestras, the Irish Orchestra, Pops Orchestra, Christmas Orchestra, the Gao Shan Qing Chinese Dance Orchestra, and the Old-Time Fiddle Jamboree Orchestra.


Jamieson’s Grade 6 and Grade 7 Advanced String Orchestras regularly compete at the Fraser Valley International Kiwanis Festival where the orchestras have earned 16 gold and 2 silver certificates, and 8 top-four trophies.


Participation in the Strings Program is mandatory for students in Jamieson’s Mandarin Bilingual Program.  (The program is offered as optional enrichment for all other intermediate students in the school, although for many years there has been a 100% participation rate at the grade 4 and 5 levels.)  No previous experience is necessary.  Students in grade 4 can either provide their own instrument or rent a violin from the school for $55 per year.    All of the violinists in grades 5 through 7 provide their own violins.  Students can rent a cello or a bass from the school in grades 4, 5, 6 and/or 7, for $100 per year.  All participating students are requested to pay an annual program fee for sheet music and music supplies.


Many of Jamieson's string students take private violin, cello or bass lessons to increase their musical skill.  More experienced players are given opportunities to lead sections and to play solos.  The combination of an interested student, quality private strings lessons, and a vibrant school string orchestra program is wonderful!  Less than 5% of the students take private strings lessons when they enter the program, but roughly 33% of the students take at least one year of private lessons before they graduate from the school.  A list of Vancouver-area private teachers is available from Mr. Colpitts upon request.​ 


Please click on the link below to view the strings performances: