For the fifth year in a row, Golden West Broadcasting and 104.5 More Country presented the Golden West Broadcasting Canadian Content Development (CCD) grant a donation of $3200 each to Strathmore High School (SHS) and Crowther Memorial Junior High (CMJHS) for their music programs.
Bryan Allsopp is the music teacher at both CMJHS and SHS he said that they were able to do so many things with the funds that they received last year, and they are hoping to do more of the same this time around.
"We've done a whole bunch of different things with the funds for the high school Strathmore High School, the music program went to New York City, we had a five-day trip, did a whole bunch of different activities, we got to see Wicked the musical on Broadway, saw the New York Philharmonic, got to go to the Birdland Jazz Club and then a whole bunch of different tourism aspects."
Allsopp mentioned that the funding they received last year was put towards different activities to help enrich musical activities while in New York, "We got to work with a Broadway conductor who had actually worked on the Wicked musical and so we got to work with him for an hour and a half session and work on some music from Wicked and get to see sort of how it worked in the Broadway pit."
There were also some fun activities that happened at CMJHS as well, "I think every group that I teach basically had two festival performances this year, So I think we had about 12 festival performances over about 5 weeks, which was chaotic but fantastic. Our grade 8 and 9 band is off to Red Deer for the Alberta Provincial Festival of Bands on Thursday so we leave just after lunch, and we come back about 9:30 at night."
With the funding, Allsopp also did an artist and residents program with the grade 6 schools where he visited the Wheatland, Westmount, Brentwood as well as Carseland schools, "Every month I would go, and I would introduce them to a new instrument. So, we did the flute, we did the clarinet or the Alto sax one and then we did the trumpet and then at the end of it all, the students picked an instrument then they came together at Crowther, and we had a great big hour-long band class with the students there."
It is really important for Allsopp to introduce different instruments to elementary students before they come to CMJHS because a lot of the times students have heard of these instruments, but they may not have heard them in person, or they have more likely never touched them. "It gives them the opportunity It's kind of like an instrument petting zoo where it's like, here are your options. You can try that and hopefully the goal is at the end of it they find an instrument that's kind of like their instrument for them."
Allsopp has been playing music himself since he was three starting with the Piano he then started taking band in the 7th grade and played the trumpet all the way through his high school years and into university. He has been teaching music for the last 12 years and this is his 11 years in Strathmore.
Music has a lot of impact on our everyday lives, and can help us get through the good and bad days, Allsopp says that band class is sometimes the class that makes certain students want to come to school. "I was actually talking with some of my students the other day and we were talking about them being diagnosed with ADHD and I get handed these surveys of check off all these different behaviors. I'm like, I don't see those behaviors because those kids when they're in there, they're focused, they're engaged, they're involved again to do something tactile."
Everybody is always listing to some type of music to help them get through their day, as Allsopp says it's extremely rare to have someone that says they don't listen to music. "It really is an outlet for a lot of people if you're having a good or bad day it's almost a form of therapy, and then we're getting to bring students together and work together and perform together, and we're teaching them social skills. We're teaching them dedication; we're teaching them how to be aware of their performance and how to kind of teach themselves at times."
Allsopp remembers fondly some of the highlights he has had with students over the years at SHS and CMJHS big and small. "Some of them are something like a kid finally getting that difficult passage that they've been working towards. There are bigger successes like, we just performed in the Strathmore Performing Arts Music Festival and I made a deal with my students, if they got a superior ranking which they did then they would get to dye my hair. Its kind of actually brought a tear to my eye in terms of the kids were both shocked and just so excited and so proud of what they've done."
If you would like to watch the SHS Concert Band in action, they have two big events that are coming this month. The Calgary Wind Symphony is coming out to present a joint concert on Tuesday, May 23rd at 7:30 in the SHS gym, admission is by donation to the Strathmore Food Bank, and the SHS Final Concert entitled. Secondly, "Mementos" is the following week on Tuesday, May 30th at 7:00 pm in the SHS Theatre and admission is free.
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