This Friday, January 13 at 7:00pm the Winnipeg School Division will be holding their Divisional Honor Band Concert at École Secondaire Sisler High School. The Winnipeg School Division is the largest school division in the Province and there are hundreds of students who take part in band at the nine High Schools that make up just the Senior High part of the Division.
To put the size of the Winnipeg School division in context, most of the High Schools in the division have more than 1000 students, and consist of the following schools:
- Sisler High School
- Elmwood High School
- Ecole Churchill High School
- Daniel McIntye Collegiate Institute
- Grant Park High School
- Tech Voc High School
- Gordon Bell
- Kelvin High School
- St. Johns High School
The honor band has been taking place in the division for 25 years, and is an initiative created by the highly devoted Band Directors in the Division in collaboration with the Division office.
The selection process for the band is made by the teachers. Mark Sawatsky is the Band Director at Elmwood High School and he describes the selection process this way, ” The Honor band is typically made up of a mix of students who are musical leaders between grades 10 and 12, but really it’s for any students who would benefit from this kind of enrichment that comes from the Honor Band experience.”
The band is rehearsed for just two days. The first time they will meet as an ensemble is on Thursday, January 12th. Over the next two days they will be in intensive full band and sectional rehearsals, honing and polishing the music for the performance on Friday the 13th night.
The music is handed out to the students before the winter break, and students are expected to show up for the first full band rehearsal with their individual parts learned. “It’s fairly challenging repertoire so the students do quite a bit of listening and some focus practicing over the break,” says Alexis Silver who is the Band Director at École Secondaire Sisler High School.
There are professional development benefits for the Band Directors as well. The teachers learn rehearsal techniques from the visiting guest conductor. This year’s visiting conductor is Dr. Jacquie Dawson who is the Director of Bands at The University of Manitoba. The teachers also observe visiting instrumental clinicians who are highly trained on a specific instrument, whether it is trumpet, saxophone, clarinet, trombone etc. From these professional musicians, the teachers take away tips for how to solve technical problems with specific students, on their specific instrument.
The Winnipeg School Division's Honor Band is an incredibly valuable asset to music education here in Manitoba for both students and teachers. Enrichment opportunities are indeed immeasurable for both parties.
The concert is this Friday, January 13th at 7:00pm at École Secondaire Sisler High School and is completely free. This is a great opportunity to see some of the best young student musicians in the city.