Halifax’s Samba Nova community band not just for professionals

The Halifax community music group Samba Nova has existed for more than two decades, but it’s still accepting new members who want to take part.

“I would describe this as a lot of fun hitting stuff with other stuff,” Ian Taylor, musical director of the group, said. “It’s Brazilian Batucada in a Carnival style, so what you’d hear if you went to Carnival in Rio or down in Brazil.”

The band, described on its website as “a registered, not-for-profit society operating as a community musical group,” plays at various events in Halifax.

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Members primarily use percussion instruments but Taylor said the group likes to “put a little Nova in the samba” by also incorporating bagpipes, fiddles and traditional instruments from Nova Scotia.

Practice is held on Tuesdays between 6-7:30 p.m. in a gym in St. Matthew’s United Church in downtown Halifax. First-timers can participate for free, after that, it costs $5 a week.

About 20 people, including seniors and people in their 20s, attended practice on Tuesday.

“It’s actually much more difficult than I thought it would be when I was watching other people play it. It’s got a very loud sound, so it’s kind of intimidating because you know you’re making a lot of noise,” Kate Kloppenburg said, referencing her instrument a tamborim.

Three practices in, she said she’s enjoying the experience.

“I find the challenge is the pace of the drumming,” Kloppenburg said. “Sometimes … they’re going so fast that you lose track of the beat.”

Instruments are provided at practices and no experience is necessary.

“It’s something that anyone can do, and I think that’s what’s best thing about Samba Nova: It’s so accessible for everyone,” Jessie Smith, another band member, said.

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