Mu­si­cal buzz at Cres­cent


Stu­dents at Cres­cent Col­le­giate in Blake­town have some­thing to sing about — and a bunch of new equip­ment to ac­com­pany them.

The Grade 7 to Level III school was re­cently awarded a $ 10,000 Band Aid grant for new mu­si­cal in­stru­ments from CARAS (Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Record­ing Arts and Sci­ence).

“We were one of three schools (in the province) to re­ceive the grant,” says mu­sic spe­cial­ist Robert Col­bourne. “I think we were one of 40some­thing grants across Canada and there were hun­dreds that ap­plied.”

To make its case, the school en­listed the sup­port of com­mu­nity, par­ents, stu­dents and government.

“Our ap­pli­ca­tion was a binder this thick,” Col­bourne says, hold­ing his thumb and fore­fin­ger about two inches apart . “We a lso made YouTube videos.”

Much of the school’s older mu­si­cal equip­ment had been ac­quired af­ter area schools, like St. Ge­orge’s in New Har­bour, closed. Ag­ing in­stru­ments con­stantly in need of re­pair can be dis­cour­ag­ing for stu­dents and frus­trat­ing for teach­ers. The re­pair bills had Col­bourne won­der­ing if it wasn’t bet­ter to just buy new in­stru­ments.

But now, thanks to CARAS, the school will be get­ting new drums, bass gui­tars, clar­inets, sax­o­phones and flutes.

“We’re very, very for­tu­nate to have re­ceived that grant. It will help us out a long way.”

Mean­while, Cres­cent’s vo­cal en­sem­ble has been se­lected to rep­re­sent the province at the Unisong Choral Fes­ti­val in Ot­tawa on Canada Day, where a choir from each province will per­form. The en­sem­ble wil l join choirs from other prov­inces for a per­for­mance of Cana­dian mu­sic, led by well-known con­duc­tor Dr. Vic­to­ria Mered­ith.

While there, they’ll per­form at the Beau­mont Hamel cer­e­mony and sing at var­i­ous venues in the city dur­ing the five-day trip.

Run­ner-up in the 2012 Choral Rose Bowl at the Car­bon­ear Ki­wa­nis Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, the group has also per­formed at the grand open­ing of Ron­ald McDon­ald House in Septem­ber 2012.

Fu­elling in­ter­est

Cres­cent first opened its doors to stu­dents in 2000. For a rel­a­tively young school, the mu­sic pro­gram has much to of­fer and Col­bourne at­tributes that to the “highly qual­i­fied teach­ers” who came be­fore him.

“Carla Roberts spent six or seven years work­ing really hard build­ing up the pro­gram and be­fore her there was Rob Lee, the school’s first mu­sic teacher here.”

More than half of the 550 stu­dents par­tic­i­pate in the mu­sic pro­gram. Some of them take manda­tory cour­ses, but about 175 are vol­un­tar­ily in­volved.

Art cour­ses are also com­pul­sory and stu­dents spend part of the year do­ing art, the other half mu­sic.

“We did a spring mu­si­cal last year called Danc­ing Through the Decades and that was put to­gether with the art­work, the drama and the mu­sic,” Col­bourne says. “So it’s a busy place; the kids don’t stop much.”

Cres­cent Col­le­giate Con­cert Band won the Ki­wa­nis Mu­sic fes­ti­val’s in­au­gu­ral In­stru­men­tal Rose Bowl and re­ceived Best Per­for­mance by a Con­cert Band in 2012.

“We’re very, very for­tu­nate to have re­ceived that grant. It will help us out a long

way.” — Robert Col­bourne, mu­sic teacher, Cres­cent Col­le­giate

The band has in­creased from 28 mem­bers to 34. In­ter­est is fu­elled, Col­bourne says, be­cause feeder schools have strong band pro­grams.

“And we had a big blitz last year where our band got to­gether in Whit­bourne for a day and we played for all th e ele­men­tary schools. We also brought in the Grade 6s from all the feeder schools and they per­formed in the spring con­cert with Cres­cent high school stu­dents last year.”

More than a hun­dred stu­dents make up the con­cert choir, which fo­cuses on con­tem­po­rary pop mu­sic — “stuff they like to sing, moreso than tra­di­tional.”

More mu­sic op­tions

In ad­di­tion, the school has in­tro­duced some new com­po­nents: gui­tar lessons for Grade 9 stu­dents, a re­cently formed jazz band and a fid­dle group. The idea for the fid­dle group came as a re­sult of the strong feeder school sys­tem.

“Epiphany Ele­men­tary and Wood­land schools of­fered vi­o­lin lessons to the stu­dents. When they got here, all of a sud­den they had no strings to go to, so I thought I’d try to get a fid­dle pro­gram go­ing.”

The high school mu­sic course is more rock and roll based, Col­bourne says, which, when added to the mix, gives stu­dents a bit of ev­ery­thing from tra­di­tional to pop.

“So there’s an out­let for ev­ery type of stu­dent who wants it and a lot of them are in all out­lets.”

The only damper seems to lie in ge­o­graph­i­cal dis­tance. Cres­cent takes in stu­dents from Heart’s De­sire to Belle­vue area, about 85 kilo­me­tres from one end to the other. That makes it a lit­tle dif­fi­cult to get in af­ter-school prac­tice.

“So our choir pro­gram takes place in the school day. Our vo­cal en­sem­ble at lunch time and since they’re go­ing away to Ot­tawa and they have an aw­ful lot of mu­sic to learn we’ve also added one day af­ter school,” says Col­bourne. “The band meets on Thurs­days af­ter school till 4 and then the jazz band goes from 4 to 5. Our fid­dle group meets lunchtime.”

But this year it’s been much eas­ier to hold af­ter-school re­hearsals be­cause the school also re­ceived a grant for phys­i­cal fit­ness and healthy liv­ing.

“So there’s a bus that runs on Tues­days and Thurs­days af­ter school, for ac­tiv­i­ties in the gym. So some of our band or choir stu­dents can just hop on the bus.”

ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­ lil­lian­sim­

Mu­sic spe­cial­ist Robert Col­bourne has been head­ing up Cres­cent Col­le­giate’s mu­sic pro­gram for the past two years.

The Cres­cent Col­le­giate Band spent many hours re­cently re­hears­ing for the Car­bon­ear Ki­wa­nis Mu­sic Fes­ti­val. The band is made up of 38 mem­bers who per­form a va­ri­ety of songs.

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