Mak­ing mu­sic at Bac­calieu Col­le­giate

New teacher re­vives band pro­gram for high school stu­dents

The Compass - - NEWS - BY MELISSA JENK­INS Melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tc

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.

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