Making music at Baccalieu Collegiate
New teacher revives band program for high school students
There almost wasn’t a band at Baccalieu Collegiate this school year. But after some persistence from a few Level III students in September, the new music teacher gave it a shot.
Anne Marie Lane, who has a doctorate in music education and conducting, took on the role of music teacher at the Old Perlican school to move closer to home. It’s a job the Harbour Grace native is glad she accepted.
“This school has a pretty active music program,” she told The Compass late last month.
But for three years there were no instrumental classes or performance bands, which meant Grade 9, Level I and Level II students had not picked up instruments in school.
Lane knew this year would be different, but was unsure if a band was the right route.
“They gave me my teaching assignments, and there was no band,” Lane explained. “The plan was to focus on junior high, teaching them instruments. That’s where the band would (eventually) be.”
Determined to form a band
Some of the students in Level III had previously played instruments in Grade 8. Others played instruments with different groups, including cadets. But it wasn’t experience that led two students to ask for a performance band. It was passion.
Antoni Power and Tiffany Howell were unknown to Lane during the first few weeks of school; after all, she had a few hundred students to get to know. But after a few brief interactions with them, Lane knew they were special.
“Two students, Antoni and Tiffany, came up to me and asked if there was going to be a band,” she said. “I told them to go get a list of those interested and I’d see what I could do.”
Lane admitted she didn’t think they would return with a list, but she was wrong. The list had about a dozen names with experience playing a variety of instruments.
“I told them we’d meet Thursday and if enough showed, we’d have a band,” Lane continued.
She was also not convinced they would show for the practice. But they proved her wrong once again.
“They are a very dedicated group of students,” she smiled. “That’s why there’s a band. The students are the ones that want it.”
Baccalieu Collegiate doesn’t just have one band, it has two — the traditional ensemble, featuring fiddles, accordions and a guitar and the instrumental group, with woodwind, brass and percussion.
Funding for instruments
Some school instruments were deemd unsalvageable. But many of the band members had their own to play, and the school still had an abundance of fiddles and guitars.
But with no money to replace the damaged instruments, Lane decided to apply for a Band-Aid Grant through the Juno Awards MusiCounts program. The grants were given to 68 schools for 2014-15, including Baccalieu.
Along with the application, which explained why the school needed new instruments, several Level III students sent along letters of support.
While meeting with the band members, some told The Compass they knew these new instruments wouldn’t be beneficial to them.
“We wanted the younger students to have the best opportunities in music,” one of the band members explained.
The school purchased 14 instruments with the grant, and they’ll be used next year for band.
Not just band
Choir is also important to the school. At the beginning of the year, about a dozen students were signed up for choir. By mid-year, they had over 20.
“It is such a big commitment,” Lane said. “They commit from September to June, they perform at awards night, Remembrance Day, Christmas concerts and Kiwanis.”
What many people don’t realize is the music course options for students are limited because of the size of the school. Because of that, bands and choirs are an extra-curricular activity.
“These students give up their time after school to practice,” said their teacher.
On top of teaching and conducting the musical groups, Lane is taking a group of students to Halifax for some musical workshops. She wanted to take them to the Atlantic Band Festival, but this year it falls on the weekend of the school’s graduation.
This may be the end of an era for some of the Level III students, but the band members said they were extremely grateful Lane was able to provide them with a band before they graduated.
“It was an epiphany for us,” Tiffany Howell told The Compass. “This really was our last (performance).”
Lane looks forward to implementing new programs at the school, and hopes for more entries in the music festival next year.
“This school has a pretty active music program.”
Anne Marie Lane
The Baccalieu Collegiate band is made up of mostly Level III students. Members of the band are, front (l-r) — Leah Pinhorn, Katie Barrett, Dawn Oliver and Jade Oliver; back — Ann Marie Lane (band director), Tiffany Howell, Morgan Hyde, Carissa Garland, Antoni Power, Emily Jane Gillingham, Zachary LeShane and Dustin Johnson. Missing from photo is Jessica Pike.
Jade Oliver (left) and Dustin Johnson perform with the Baccalieu Collegiate traditional ensemble at the Kiwanis Music Festival Grand Concert on Thursday, March 26, in Carbonear. Both musicians can play multiple instruments.