The Caledonia Secondary and Skeena Middle School bands have been raising money for months now, and their most recent was the 27th Annual School Band Telethon.
This year was a return to the event after missing the last two due to COVID-19. Though they may be out of practice, the students and organizers have been tirelessly getting ready for the big trip to Niagara Falls in May for the MusicFest nationals.
Held on March 5 at the REM Lee Theatre, the young musicians were accepting calls and pledges from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., in addition to performing various pieces throughout the evening. The event was streamed live on the theatre’s YouTube channel.
“All of the funds donated during the event go directly to our band programs,” said Katia Georgeson, the band teacher at Skeena Middle School. “These funds are then used to purchase new equipment, new music, and give students the chance to experience things like the professional workshops, band trips, concerts and more.”
Kerry Giesbrecht is a parent of a former band student, and is now an organizer of the fundraising efforts.
“Live music is pretty important to the community of Terrace,” she said. “Although Terrace is small, there’s a lot of love for music here, and the music community is strong.”
This year is the 51st national competition of MusicFest, and will run from May 15 to 20. Initially founded in 1972 as the Canadian Stage Band Festival, the event was a force in the development of the stage band and jazz big band programs in high schools and universities.
The last two MusicFest events were held virtually due to COVID-19, and was last held in Niagara Falls. The festival moves from city to city across Canada each year; the last in-person festival was held in Ottawa, and has previously been held in cities such as Toronto, Richmond, Calgary, and Montreal.
“The annual school band telethon is one of the biggest fundraisers we run every year,” said Georgeson.
“Not only is it a chance for students to perform and practice their repertoire for upcoming festival performances, but it allows students to see a more direct connection to how sharing their music brings people together.”
MusicFest has an average attendance of 7,000 young musicians from all over Canada, and is the largest educational music convention in the country.
“It’s a super rewarding job to direct these kids, but it’s also a lot of work,” said Giesbrecht. “And they do it with such passion. They’re all in, you know, these band teachers. They just are really there for the kids and parents, and it shows.”