Bright and early Monday and Wednesday mornings is when Cary Pederson and his merry concert band meet upstairs in Beacock Music's rehearsal studio to practice, laugh, and be together. Pederson took over the directorship of the band after the stores founder, Dale Beacock was killed in a tragic biking accident on the Oregon Coast. Russ Beacock, Dale's son, asked Cary to take over when the band started to flounder with interim directors.

Pederson, a professional clarinetist and saxophonist, holds a Master's degree from Portland State University in performance music. When the younger Beacock approached him, Pederson was just back from a stint in southern California where he tried to break into studio music and found the cost of living to be prohibitive.

While many of his fellow graduates have given up dreams of being professional musicians, Pederson has found a way to make it work. But not without cost. He credits his desire.

Pederson teaches over 50 students a week, directs the Concert and Swing Band and the jazz ensemble at Beacock's, and keeps his own skills sharp by practicing at least two hours a day. He also volunteers at local high school bands and ensembles augment the band directors' generalism with his woodwind expertise.

Talking about how he feels when friends tell him he is unbalanced and needs to introduce something else besides music into his life, Pederson responds, "Music is my 'else'."

Depression is a widespread condition that afflicts large numbers of us as we age. (Click the link '10 Facts on Ageing' toward the bottom of the article for a great slideshow factsheet.)

Studies show that some of the keys to maintaining physical and mental health as we age is to continue to contribute, keep learning, and incorporate creativity in areas that bring joy: it's called active aging. And in Vancouver, this band is finding success.

For a podcast on Pederson's thoughts on the plight of public school music educators, click here.

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