Elementary band students excel at clinics

BAND STUDENTS learned from professional musicians at an annual retreat here last week.

DONNIE CLARK

BAND STUDENTS learned from professional musicians at an annual retreat here last week.

Then the students all came together to play a concert for their parents. And the secondary school bands played for the elementary students.

“The idea being ‘this is where you get to if you stay in band,’” said Dare to Dream’s Marilyn Kerr.

For the past many years, Dare to Dream pays for five professional musicians, also called clinicians, to come here and work with band students in their sectionals, which helps the students improve quickly

This year, students learned from, and played with, clarinet clinician Yvette Bof. trumpet clinician Donnie Clark, flutist Andy Brodie, Vancouver band teacher Peter Stigins and sax player Julia Nolan.

Brodie taught here for many years and his wife Marilyn was a singing teacher.

Starting out in small groups and putting it all together afterward is the best way to prepare for such a performance, said Kerr.

With all the instruction during the week, the students come along very quickly, especially the Grade 6s, who only started in band last September, she said.

Students who are going to take band need to start in Grade 6 or else they will be behind if they try to start at a later grade, said Kerr.

“Band is really geared for starting in Grade 6. If they stay in band in Grade 6 and 7, they have a pretty good skill level, and by the time they get to Grade 8, they get to do trips and more challenging music,” said Kerr.

The Grade 6 band stays together through Grade 12, she added.

“There isn’t anybody who works harder than band teachers. Trying to teach six different lessons among all the noise requires a lot of skill, getting them under control, getting them to focus and to even put it together.”

The children really love working with the clinicians too, says director of Dare to Dream Donna Ziegler.

“We’ve gotten thank you cards and all kind of things from the kids,” she said. “The children really, really do appreciate it.”

And the children do make a noticeable improvement from the time they spend with the clinicians.

“At the end of that hour, it was amazing. There were kids from all the different bands playing together. I was so amazed by the change that happened to these children. It just was incredible,” said Ziegler.