Last night I went back to the high school I used to attend for a band concert. Every year, the Regina Catholic Schools Band Association hosts a festival – “Band Days”. During this all band students are encouraged to play a solo or in an ensemble. There are different class groups ranging from beginners – grade 6 students to class A – senior high school students. This year, there were close to 800 solos and 120 ensembles performed over the course of 5 days. There is also an opportunity for students to be selected by their band teachers to participate in the Select Grade 7/8 Band or the High School Honour Band. I remember playing solos and ensembles and having the privilege to play in the Select Bands and the Honour Bands when I was in elementary and high school.
Attending the concert brought back a lot of memories of the various bands that I had played in and the summer band camps that I was able to attend. I miss being a part of a band and playing great music. There were many songs played that I had played and it was great to see so many students still involved in the school band programs. Through out the evening, the band directors and teachers were thanked numerous times by the Director of Education, by the emcee and by the Band Parent Association President. The hard work that these teachers do is truly amazing. They are so committed to the program and to their students. Know having just completed my education degree I hope that I can share my passions with my own students just as I have seen these band directors do as well.
One of the guest directors of the honour band said something that stuck with me. She has been across Canada and has adjudicated many festivals and worked with many bands. She said that this band program that is in the Regina Catholic Schools is one of the best in not only the Province but in the Country. I agree with her. I remember when I was in band, our directors and teachers had high expectations of us and we played challenging music. We also worked hard and were able to achieve success which is evident if you walk into the band room at Dr. Martin LeBoldus High School or any of the other band rooms in Regina. I have heard a lot of other bands perform and I must say, the program that Regina has is truly exceptional.
Unfortunately, I am sad when I hear that the system is changing the hours of band and choir rehearsals for the upcoming year for both elementary and high school students. Nothing is official yet, but the band practices may not be after school for high school students and sectionals may not be for one period during the day. I do not know all of the changes, but in talking with some band teachers who have become friends of mine, they are worried about their programs. Band is a wonderful opportunity for students and playing a musical instrument is something that all students should be encouraged to do. I learned so much through my experiences not only musically but in terms of confidence,what I am able to do, and I have made long lasting friendships. I hope that the changes that occur next year do not impact the quality of our bands, but unfortunately, I think they will. I can only hope that students remain in band and that their teachers remain dedicated and committed to their programs and that excellence and the tradition of great music continues.
“Music is exciting. It is thrilling to be sitting in a group of musicians playing (more or less) the same piece of music. You are part of a great, powerful, vibrant entity. And nothing beats the feeling you get when you’ve practiced a difficult section over and over and finally get it right. (yes, even on the wood block.) Music is important. It says things you heart can’t say any other way, and in a language everyone speaks. Music crosses borders, turns smiles into frowns, and vice versa. These observations are shared with a hope: that, when schools cut back on music classes, they really think about what they’re doing – and don’t take music for granted.” – Dan Rather