This week the district band program hosted its spring concert. A packed house at the North Peace Cultural Center listened as each of the district's four band goups; beginner, grade 7, Junior Concert Band and Senior Concert Band played a medley of well crafted and enjoyable selections. At one point in the program the junior band were joined by members of the community Northwinds band group with the result producing some of the most impressive music of the evening.
That the numbers of students taking band remains strong is a tribute to the energy and dedication shown by the program's four teacher conductors. They are a diverse group ranging in experience from program coordinator Sandra Gunn, who has been with the program for well over a decade, to Mr. Price who is well established at NPSS, to Mr. and Mrs. Brooks, who are relatively new in the district. All of them bring a sincere passion for music education to their efforts, and their dedication is clearly reflected in the fond regard that many students express about their band experiences. Not only are student numbers strong, but the quality of performance is also high, with this year's Concert Band being recommended on the strength of their festival performances, to participate in Musicfest Canada, a national graded music competition held in the lower mainland later this month.
Too often band and fine arts programs find themselves on the chopping block when districts look at budget cuts. SD 60 has been, and will remain, committed to supporting the arts. There are many benefits to music education. Visit the Victoria Conservatory of Music's website and you will find a dozen great reason for supporting band and similar programs. As the conservatory points out, band encourages creativity but also demonstrates the value of craftmanship. It emphasizes the benefits of practice and diligence and teaches children to face their fears and take some risks. Playing before an audience, or just for personal enjoyment can help students find their own means of self expression, build self esteem and enhance their sense of personal efficacy.
Creativity, teamwork and finding one's place in the world are all valuable 21st Century skills. Aside from other benefits, this week's concert demonstrated that being in band can be just plain fun. The smiles I saw on the faces of parents, teachers and students proves the district's band program is clearly hitting all the right notes and proves that learning can be both fun and entertaining for those who take the time to play and listen.