This month at Notre Dame Collegiate was festival month. This isn't particularly unique amongst band programs in Alberta, but what seems to be unique to Notre Dame Collegiate is how we participated.
Notre Dame Collegiate is the only school in the Foothills to have sent students to festival playing solos, duets or small ensembles, and 36 students selected music to do so.
This is unique in Alberta. Very few schools send students to participate in local festivals. It is quite possible that Notre Dame Collegiate sent the most of any rural school (according to any information I can gather), and competed with the number of students from high population schools in urban centres.
I wish you all could have seen the hard work and determination our students employed this past two months. It was incredible to watch students go the extra mile to craft a performance for an adjudicator. The music room hasn't been silent since December as each student has been working diligently on their music. They worked at lunches, before and after school, and during self-directed learning blocks to prepare their music. It was a joy to listen to.
But that's not all ...
Our Junior Jazz Band "The Woodshedders" also received a "Distinction" rating, and was invited to perform at the Adjudicator's Showcase on March 24, 2018 as well.
The Grade 7 Concert Band attended Airdrie's Rotary Festival of the Performing Arts, however the highlight of their journey this month was at the National Music Centre, where students imaginations and creativity in music took a completely different path than they would have expected.
Top Left: Taylor Bolton and Bobby Richardson creating their own found instruments.
Top Middle: Elaina Low examining the unique acoustical architecture of the facility.
Top Right: Fritz Gonzales trying out the Theremin.
Bottom Left: A group of NDC students gather around McLaren Smit as he tries the suspended grand piano.
Right: Jasper Favel (shaking hands) and Kimberley Waddle (to Jasper's right) along with some other festival participants accepting their scholarships for exceptional musicianship from Highwood Lions Music Festival Association President David Robertson. Kim and Jasper both performed Distinction-rated solos at festival this year. Kimberley Waddle is a bassoon player, and Jasper Favel plays Euphonium.
And yet they are not done.
I walked into my classroom on the Monday after all this work was complete, and one of the festival soloists approached me with a ridiculous grin on her face. She presented me with an arrangement of "A Thousand Years", a piece recorded by Christina Perri. "I was so excited, I spent the weekend arranging this," the student told me.
Now the marching band unit begins, seeing Grade 7 Band students prepare for marching in the Little Britches Parade on May 19, 2018. Last year was Notre Dame Collegiate's first foray into marching band, and it continues once again this year.
The little program that could.
It seems to me that our students get that music should be a core subject. It is as Bill Dimmer, the adjudicator of many of the solos performed at festival this year, stated in his first words of the festival; "music education is the only area of study that systematically develops connections between both hemispheres of the brain." It is an undisputed fact proven through mountains of research, and the best part of it is that it is also fun. As I have said on numerous occasions, music is essential to what it means to be human, and it is the job of education to help students develop the fullness of their humanity, therefore music education must be considered core to the development of our students.
This is why Notre Dame Collegiate's music department holds as its philosophy that ...