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Band Blast reaches crescendo

By June 30, 2023No Comments
It was rehearsal day last week at College Park School for Grade 6 LPSD students performing in this year’s Band Blast before an audience of family and friends. Geoff Lee Meridian Source

 

The final rehearsal for the Lloydminster Public School Division Band Blast acted as a benchmark for how far the beginner band players in Grade 6 progressed over the school year.

It was also the final tune-up for the 250-member band just hours before its year-end concert for the community and families at College Park School’s gym last Tuesday.

“We are going to play four tunes today,” said band teacher and conductor, Jaime Grand at College Park during practice.

“They range from 40 to 60 measure-long pieces that we’ve been learning for the music festival (Kiwanis) and for the year-end concert,” said Grand. 

“We are celebrating all the accomplishments that have been made this year.”

Grand also teaches beginner band students at Barr Colony and Queen Elizabeth schools with the concert being the first since 2019, before it was paused for the pandemic.

The instruments the students play range from flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, trumpet, trombone, baritone and percussion.

“This is their first year in band, so this is a pretty big accomplishment for them to be able to gather together today and play,” she said.

Grand said they sound way better than they did back in September when they held a head-start clinic pairing young musicians throughout Saskatchewan with newbies via Google Meets.

She says those young mentors teach the LPSD learners a little bit about how to play their instruments to get the band program rolling.

College Park band member, Shae Hagting, joked she “sounded like a dying cow,” on day one, but not anymore.

“I sounded horrible, but now I sound way better,” she said, adding she loves being in the band since her best friends are too.

The teen says she picked the baritone to learn because it seemed the most interesting.

“It’s a brass instrument that has three buttons that you have to press to play,” she explained.

Parker McKelkie, who teaches band at Jack Kemp, Winston Churchill and E.S. Laird school, also noted his students sound completely different today after months of practice. 

“When they are starting, most of them can’t even make a noise on the instruments. It’s a huge difference from day one to where they are at now,” said McKelkie.

“So, now we’re able to go through and play some full songs upwards of two minutes long, and be able to follow through to do all the things they need to do that.”

He says it’s especially satisfying seeing this is his first year of teaching in general.

“So for me, being able to see where they came from right from the beginning is super awesome,” said McKelkie.

One of his students, Tegen Cebuliak at Jack Kemp, has been learning the alto saxophone all year after a buddy gave it to him and was ready for the concert. 

“I would say I’ve progressed a lot because right at the start I could barely play some notes, like, that would just sound awful, but now they just sound good to me,” he said.

He noted a friend gave him the saxophone along with some starter tips, “just the top three notes,” as he described it. 

As for what he likes about the sax, he said: “Really, everything.”