Wednesday, 14 June 2017 11:51

SCCHS music department concludes a successful year with final concert

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Band Director Janine Waines conducts the SCCHS Wind Ensemble during the final concert, June 6. Band Director Janine Waines conducts the SCCHS Wind Ensemble during the final concert, June 6. Matthew Liebenberg

Students from the Swift Current Comprehensive High School (SCCHS) music department concluded a successful year with their final concert June 6.


The concert featured performances by three orchestral groups and two choral groups. The music department presents two major concerts every year. The annual winter concert takes place before Christmas and the final concert happens towards the end of the school year.
According to Janine Waines, the SCCHS band director and instrumental music educator, the final concert is an important event for students.
“It’s a celebration of everything they’ve done throughout the course of the year,” she said.
Currently, around 200 students are participating in the music department’s various band and choir activities. Many students are in multiple ensembles. Waines has been the band director for three years.
“The numbers have been remaining steady or slightly increasing every year since I arrived and hopefully will continue to do so,” she said. “We would always like to see more.”
She was a music educator in Brandon, Manitoba, for 10 years before moving to Swift Current in 2014. She completed her bachelor of music and education degrees at Brandon University and received a master of education in curriculum studies at Acadia University.
The other member of the SCCHS music department is choral director Brianna Dennehy, who has been teaching at the school since 2010. She studied at the University of Saskatchewan and received a masters in music in vocal performance at the University of Alberta.
These two music educators co-ordinate an extremely active music program at the SCCHS that include both curricular and extracurricular activities.
“The band program has three concert bands and two jazz bands, and the choir program has a concert choir, a chamber choir, and a vocal jazz ensemble,” Waines said. “I have a junior jazz band, which is un-auditioned and extracurricular, and then I have a senior jazz band, which is an auditioned ensemble and those students can take it for credit. Then Ms. Dennehy also has a vocal jazz ensemble that is auditioned as well, and our year-end concert for the jazz portion of our program, that’s our annual swing night All That Jazz, happened at the end of May.”
The three orchestral groups that performed at the final concert are all curricular ensembles. In addition to their regular class, the bands will rehearse once a week over the lunch hour. The wind symphony consists of Grade 9 students while the wind ensemble is made up of Grade 10 students. The wind orchestra consists mostly of Grade 11 and 12 band students.
The Meistersingers is a non-auditioned choral ensemble for students who enjoy singing. Their participation can either be taken for credit or as an extracurricular activity. The chamber singers is a smaller, auditioned group with members that are drawn from the Meistersingers.
The chamber singers is an extracurricular activity and rehearsals take place outside school hours.
“I’ve only been in Saskatchewan for three years, but in talking to colleagues of mine, I firmly believe that we have one of the best music programs in our province,” Waines said about the SCCHS music department. “We are very well supported at our school, both by our administration and by our colleagues. They allow us to run our lunch hour rehearsals and do their best to minimize conflicting extracurricular activities so that the students don’t feel torn between being in our classes and wanting to do other things.”
The school’s timetable arrangement allows her to see the band students every other day for an hour and to have a full rehearsal with each ensemble once a week.
“So as far as contact time goes, I think we’re very lucky,” she said. “We don’t have as much contact time as some other programs, but we certainly work to use it as effectively as we can and I’ve been told at various festivals that we appear to have some of the strongest programs in the province.”
An important part of the music department’s activities is to provide students with opportunities to attend various festivals during the school year. Each ensemble will attend at least one music festival.
“When we attend these festivals, the students get to benefit from working with some of the top music educators and clinicians across the country, even basically North America, because we often will have adjudicators and such from the States as well,” she said. “We get feedback from the adjudicators and we get the opportunity to workshop or clinic with these adjudicators as well.”
The students will also have opportunities to watch performances by other ensembles at these festivals.
“So they can get a sense of where they are in the scope of things and they have the opportunity to hear other groups and what they’re doing as well,” she said. “Then of course any time you pack 50 kids on a bus you’re going to get lots of bonding and lots of friend making and sense of community and connections that way as well.”
An important fixture on the annual music program calendar is the jazz retreat that takes place in the Cypress Hills during February. It is attended by the senior jazz ensemble, the vocal jazz ensemble and the chamber singers.
“We hire clinicians to come in and work with our ensembles and give them some tips and pointers,” she said. “(It is) a weekend of immersion in music just to get everybody focused and ready for festival season.”
It is costly to arrange this retreat and to travel to the different music festivals. It will not be possible without the involvement of parents, who provide enthusiastic support to the music department’s activities through the Swift Current Band Parents Auxiliary and the SCCHS Choral Association.
“Both organizations support and help and promote our programs, and they take care of fundraising activities for the students so that they can afford to do all of these wonderful things that we put in front of them,” she said. “We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without their support and help. ... Another huge facet of that is the parents that come with us and help us look after all these kids when they go on all these trips. We would not be able to go on these trips if we didn’t have parents who were willing to take time off work to come and help us look after them.”
The SCCHS music students participated with significant success in different music festivals during the past school year.
The wind orchestra was invited to participate in a University of Regina concert in November 2016, and the group was the opening act for the university’s wind band concert.
The wind ensemble and the wind orchestra attended the Optimist Festival in Regina during March. Both groups received three gold ratings from each of their adjudicators, an award for superior performance, as well as an invitation to MusicFest Canada. They have an option to attend the next MusicFest in May 2018 in Toronto or the one in Ottawa in May 2019.
The wind symphony and the wind ensemble attended the Alberta Band Association’s provincial band festival in Red Deer. Both bands received two superior ratings and two excellence ratings from four different adjudicators, which gave them an excellent plus performance overall.
This year the SCCHS music department attended the Con Brio Festival in Whistler, B.C., for the first time and Waines was impressed with the experience.
“It was one of the few festivals that I’ve ever attended in my 14 years of teaching where there was actually professional development activities for the directors as well as opportunities for the students,” she said. “So it was a very successful festival and we really enjoyed it.”
The Meistersingers had an opportunity to sing in a mass choir of more than 800 voices at this festival. The chamber singers and Meistersingers both received a silver standing at the festival, the senior jazz band came home with gold, and the wind orchestra received silver.
“We’ve got a wonderful pool of very talented kids to work with in this community and we’re so blessed to have that,” she said. “I know I have very high expectations, but the kids never fail to surprise me. They always reach or exceed any expectation I can give them and they just work really hard and they’re committed.”

Read 2458 times Last modified on Friday, 16 June 2017 14:25
Matthew Liebenberg

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