Friday, 28 February 2014

Welcome Back!

-Optimist Information is being distributed, if you would like to order a picture, please fill in the attached picture form and return to us by March 17.
-Grade 8's - please return your trip permission forms

Congratulations to all jazz band students on a wonderful concert on Thursday night!    We look forward to rehearsals this week and your next performance.

Grade 6 Band
The grade 6's have had some excellent rehearsals.   We are very proud of their use of rehearsal skills, and their improvement.   We are focusing on our sheet music right now.   We talked through with Grade 6's what a festival is.   We explained it as a place to celebrate their many accomplishments.   We also explained it as a place to share their music.  We explained that at a festival there are other band teachers from across Canada and the United States who listen to us perform and their job is to listen to us and find something to teach us.   This is called the clinic and occurs immediately after our performance.

Students this week were figuring out the notes to Happy Birthday and most students began to learn a new scale.   This scale is Concert Eb.  It is tricky for brass players because it goes quite high.   Students are asked to concentrate on their sheet music.   Festival is quickly approaching.   Specifically measures 11-27 of Gentle Winds and 27-51 in Courtly Dance and Procession.

Grade 7 Band 
Grade 7's are into the final preparations for the festival.   They have been rehearsing extremely well in full rehearsals.     We are looking forward to performing one of our pieces with the composer present.  We have been working a lot on details now.   The grade 7's have marked in many details including note endings, and dynamic changes.   We have worked very hard at consistency in articulations.     We still have a few problem spots.   Students are asked to practice measures 1-20 in Cathedral and measures 57-end of Prelude.   There are some really nice sounds happening, and we want to make sure practicing is kept up especially since this coming up week is a short one.

Grade 8 Band

It's the final two weeks before Optimist so it's all about polishing what we've learned thus far.  African Marching Song is sounding great.  Being as precise with the rhythms as possible is what will make the difference.  Amen is improving every time we play it.  Students must keep practicing these songs so that when the nerves set in on the stage at the Conexus, we have that muscle memory to make sure that we still are successful.  Next week is short so please take your instruments home these next few weekends.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Have a Good Break!

Things to Remember:
- Jazz Students - remember - February Blues Thurs. Feb. 27! You will need to meet at Campbell at 6:30p.m.
-Grey Cup Marchers please get your scholarship applications in.    They need to be received by
March 4.
-Grade 8's - permission forms have been handed out for the Grade 8 trip.  Please get those turned in by March 4.
-Those Grade 8 students participating in the South Sask. Jr. Band, please make sure permission forms have been handed in for that.

Have a good Break Everyone!
Students have been working very hard and we have heard some excellent progress over the last 6 weeks.   Students are reminded to take their instruments home and to get some practice in on their instrument.   Festival is coming up very quickly.   The first day back after the break will be Day 5.   This is Perry sectional day and RCS grade 6 sectional day.

In Grade 6 Band
Grade 6's have been working quite hard, and the results of their hard work are starting to show.    We have been watching for some habits forming that might make playing instruments difficult.   Some of these habits include fingers flying extremely high from the keys, stand height and posture.   Many of the students have grown over the last few months and so we have been reminding them that they will need to adjust their music stands to their new heights.   Trombone players have been reminded that it might not seem like they need to stretch as far to reach some of their positions.   Percussionists have been reminded to adjust the drum height to their height.    Saxophone players have been reminded to adjust their next strap to a length that works.

Gentle Winds has few notes, but is quite difficult because it is written in 3/4.   This week we worked quite hard at getting a 3/4 feel, by not accidentally adding an extra beat.   We also worked extremely hard at moving together and figuring out what to listen for.   Students are now asked to look at measures 25 -the end.    Courtly Dance is coming along.    We have some discrepancies in how fast we want to go.    We begin at one tempo and end quite a bit slower.   This is mainly because our ending is not as polished as the opening.   Students are asked to to take a look at 43-end.  

In Grade 7 Band 
There were some very nice sounds coming from the Grade 7's this week.    Prelude and Celebration is coming along extremely well.    This week we worked extremely hard on our note endings and phrasing.    Students identified spots where the phrase was moving and acted accordingly.   Generally we have been saying as your notes move higher, get louder, as your notes move lower get softer.  We are looking forward to playing it for the composer in March.   Students are asked to take a look at 85 to the end.   We still have a few wrong notes in there that need to be fixed.  (This pieces does have a tricky key signature change.   We almost have it, but need it to be completely fixed!)

Our second festival piece is Cathedral.    We are working away at this.   We have the notes mostly down, but are working hard at addressing the style.    Most of the students are trying to play this slower than it is actually intended.  Students are asked to make sure notes stay smooth, but at the same time that we do not slow down.  This is hard.     Students are asked to specifically look at measures 1-20.   This is the part that tends to slow down the most.   Part of the reason for this is that there are some funny accidentals in here.  

In Grade 8 Band

We had a very successful band class this week.  We have finally finished Amen in it's entirety.  Individual practice still needs to happen, especially on the middle section but it is now in our grasp.  We really worked on the ending since we hadn't spent much time on it before.  Once we get it straightened out we were able to put it all together.  I've been very pleased with the amount of practicing that has happened on this piece.

We also played through African Marching Song and continued with the suggestions that Dr. Lonis gave us during our clinic.  Keeping the dynamics soft and light help it to stay in it's groove.  Have a great week off.

Don't forget to get those trip permission forms in ASAP.  We would love to have any parents who are able to volunteer to chaperone come with us.

Friday, 7 February 2014

In the Band Room This Week!

Things To Remember:
-Those Junior Winds Members who are playing on Saturday at All Saints Anglican Church - please meet at 6:30p.m..   We will perform at 7:00p.m. and be done at about 7:15p.m.   Please wear your band t-shirt, black pants, black shoes and black socks.
-Jazz Students  - Reminder February Blues is quickly approaching!   Please make sure Feb. 27 is marked on your calendars!  

In Grade 6 Band
This week in Grade 6 band we began a new piece.   It is entitle Belah Sun Woman and based on an ancient Australian Aboriginal story.   As we learn this piece, we will also learn the story.    This piece is called a project piece as it is written in five movements.   Each movement focuses on a  concept or skill that it is important for ensemble playing.  Some of these concepts we start without instruments and then add instruments later.   This week we began the first movement.   We began by learning the chant and then creating movements to the chant in groups.   Soon we will be adding drumsticks to this.   We will be supplying drumsticks for everyone for this.   This is a piece we will pick away at, and is a good opportunity for students to try something a little different!

As well this week we have continued working on our two Optimist pieces.   Students were asked to make our pieces a practice priority.  Specifically measures 43-the end of Courtly Dance and Procession and measures 11-27 of Gentle Winds.    This week we also talked about habits.   We have been doing some posture checks and taking a few quick pictures and video to demonstrate to students habits (such as crossed legs, or keeping fingers close to their instrument keys) that we need to watch out for.    Some students did not realize some of these habits were starting to emerge.   We had a few giggles over some, and will continued to work on these.   (All pictures and video will be erased.)

Students this week also listened to examples of the two pieces they are playing.   Examples of these can be found on   Once on this sight students need to do a search for their pieces and then can play it.    Many thought it was quite helpful to hear a recording.

In Grade 7 Band
We were treated to a clinic with Dr. Dale Lonis this week.   Dr. Lonis is an internationally renowned educator, conductor, and performer.   He is from Chicago and has worked with groups from all over the world.  We were quite lucky to have him working with our students this week.

During our clinics he worked with our students on identifying three important musical elements.   He worked on rhythm.   Students tried fast and slow rhythms, and he had some interesting sayings to help them with them.  He worked on pitch by having students learn a song (Soft Kitty) by scale degrees.  And finally he worked on style.   To do this he demonstrated how a piece can mean many different things by the way in which it is played.  

Students are asked to practice measures 1-27 of Prelude et Celebration and m.1-20 of Cathedral.  A recording of Cathedral may be found on   Since Prelude et Celebration has not been published yet, a recording of this piece can only be found on the composer's website.   The url is

In Grade 8 Band

We were fortunate enough to have another clinc with Dr. Lonis.  This was an excellent experience because we got to follow up on what we worked on with Dr. Lonis in the fall.  We spent some time on African Marching Song which we hadn't really dived into yet.

Playing tests continue in Amen.  The good news is we're almost half done!  We still have lots to go but there's lots of repetition in the rest of the piece so it should all be coming together very soon