WOW!!! I cannot believe the enthusiasm and energy here at Westwood this year. We are all so thankful to be back in classes and making music together. Everyone involved in these first few classes have felt the great warmth that music brings to our lives.
At this point everyone has an instrument and music and we are already deep into the start of our musical year. Folders have been assigned, music has been distributed and a beautiful noise can be heard from the band room throughout the day.
As we progress, help is always available at lunch and after school for a mini-lesson or just a quick question. Assignment help and/ or homework assistance is always available.
First assignments are just around the corner and Gr.9 and 10 students will be working out of a new method book this year... look for a one time payment in cash online shortly to cover our costs. As well, I will be collecting rental and percussion fees at the beginning of October.
As always, we are going to work hard to yearn your praise and applause as we prepare our music for you. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at your earliest convenience. For specific class information, you just have to click on the class drop down menu for the latest intel.
A handful of Greg Edwards's band students hold the group's awards at Westwood Collegiate on June 22. From left: Brooke Schrader, Danica Dumore, Kellin Kilpatrick, Chelsea Kingerski, Edwards, Blake Edwards, Ty Baldwin, Chase Ward, Aubrey Epp and Aiden Mackenzie. (GABRIELLE PICHÉ/CANSTAR COMMUNITY NEWS/HEADLINER)
A pandemic can’t stop the music at Westwood Collegiate.
Through lockdowns and social distancing, masks and rounds of hand sanitizer, the collegiate’s six bands have played on — and now, they’re reaping the rewards.
Each of teacher Greg Edwards’s three concert bands and three jazz bands received
!ve stars for performances at the Manitoba Band Association’s Flexible Family of Festivals (formerly the Classic 107 Concert & Jazz Band Festival).
The high school’s senior jazz band also earned gold at MusicFest Canada, a national band competition. The intermediate jazz and senior concert crews both took silvers.
Edwards said he’d never experienced a clean sweep at the provincial festival in his 27 years of teaching.
"We were just beaming," he said. "I can’t even comprehend it."
Normally, over 200 bands would enter in the Manitoban contest. This year, Westwood Collegiate covered six of 11 submissions — and, they were the only groups to enter with wind instruments.
Edwards and his students had to be creative and nimble to continue playing.
"There was always this Plan A, B, C type thing that Mr. Edwards had," said Brooke Schrader, a Grade 11 student in three of Edwards’s bands.
It wasn’t a question of whether or not to play — it was more where and how, according to Schrader.
The !rst day students were able to practise in school, Edwards had taped squares in the band room for kids to stand in, Schrader said. He ordered custom-made masks for woodwind and brass players.
When the school switched to remote learning — twice this year, following provincial orders — students brought their instruments home and met online. Edwards rented small mallet kits to send with percussion musicians who couldn’t transfer their large equipment.
The students muted their microphones and played their instruments to a song recording from Edwards’s end. The intermediate and senior jazz groups would gather on video chat at 7:20 a.m. in the !rst round of home studies — to match the time of their in-person class — and tried to keep it quiet. After all, family members were sleeping.
Greg Edwards, Westwood Collegiate's band teacher, has been an educator for 27 years. He said it's the !rst time he's ever seen the Manitoba Band Association put on an awards ceremony for a school. (GABRIELLE PICHÉ/CANSTAR COMMUNITY NEWS/HEADLINER)
Schrader would use the stick-ends of her mallets to hit instrument keys while on morning calls at home in Headingley. She also put towels in the bottom of her conga drums to mu"e the noise.
Band members made personal YouTube channels for class. They’d record themselves playing their instruments, upload the videos and send links to Edwards, who would grade them and give them feedback based on what he saw and heard.
There was a window in May where kids were back in class and could play music. However, only 25 students could be together in a room at once.
Edwards and his crew jumped on the opportunity. The concert bands had to split into two groups; while they played, they listened to recordings of the missing instruments. After a few rehearsals, the bands recorded their songs — festivals were taking video submissions instead of in-person performances this year.
The senior concert band couldn’t make it work. There were two recordings to meld together, as the group couldn’t play inside as one, and their videos didn’t align.
Then, members got an email: meet in the collegiate’s courtyard Monday morning.
So, around 7 a.m. on a chilly spring day (it was -1 C), the students spaced themselves, in their formal wear, and played together for the !rst time to record for nationals.
"As a percussionist, my !ngers were getting so cold that it was hard to move my hands really fast," Schrader said. "But, we sounded pretty good, so we were happy about that."
She said the awards the bands received are great, but what she really took from the experience is that hard work pays o#. She credits Edwards for making the school year better.
"When everyone else had given up, Mr. Edwards was always there, and he was working really hard to get everything done," she said.
Edwards said he’s in awe of his students.
"The English language falls short in expressing the right words to say how amazed, and proud, and supported (I feel)," he said.
The Manitoba Band Association held a virtual awards ceremony for Westwood Collegiate this year, which Edwards said is unheard of.
Chelsey Hiebert, the association’s executive director, called the bands’ performances "outstanding" and the kids "resilient".
"Westwood just went above and beyond," she said.
Students in Edwards’s classes, including Ty Baldwin and Kellin Kilpatrick, echoed that it took resilience to keep going this year.
The Headliner community journalist
Gabrielle Piché is the community journalist for The Headliner. Gabby is a cub reporter fresh from Red River College’s creative communications program. She majored in journalism and spent the summer of 2020 as an intern at the Winnipeg Free Press. Gabby also has a B.A. in communications from the University of Winnipeg. She reported for newspapers in the Interlake, including the Selkirk Record, in 2019, and received the Eric and Jack Wells Excellence in Journalism award in 2020. When she’s not chasing stories, you can !nd Gabby listening to podcasts, attempting yoga or petting somebody’s dog Email her at email@example.com
Written by Simeon RusnakTuesday, Jun 29 2021, 9:17 AM
Music educator Greg Edwards on the “resiliency” and “indefatigable” spirit of students—and teachers—through a tumultuous year.
The end of the school year is nearly here, and just before closing the book on one we’re surely not to forget, Classic 107 spoke with band director at Westwood Collegiate Greg Edwards about the year that was — one which, despite the many, many challenges kept the music going.
“There’s a reason that Manitoba is the centre of music education in Canada,” says Edwards, who describes his colleagues across the province as some of the most “wonderful, brilliant and resilient” educators in the country. “We’re very lucky to have that kind of community.”
In a year that “takes the cake” when it came to pivots and changes, Edwards, like all educators, rolled with the punches.
From physically-distanced seating and reduced class sizes at the beginning of the year, to Zoom rehearsals, to outdoor performances, there was a bit of everything this year in the real life and online band room. Following public health guidelines, the safety of students was always of the utmost priority.
“They could keep playing their instruments,” said Edwards. “I think that was the key thing, that’s what they signed up for, that’s what they wanted to do in band.”
And, after a clean-sweep at the Manitoba Band Association online Family of Festivals, it was clear that students were playing their instruments very well.
The three concert bands and three jazz bands at Westwood Collegiate all received 5 star performances at the festival—a first for Edwards in his more than 25 years attending.
“That was wild,” says and enthusiastic Edwards.
Find the full, year end Westwood Collegiate band recital below. Plus Simeon’s conversation with Greg Edwards.
Do you have a musical success story you would like to share? Reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org
Miss the awards ceremony with theManitoba Band Association last night? Don't worry, we recorded it and it is now up on our youTube Channel. Just head over to youTube and type in band@westwood or click this link........ band@westwood
All school owned instruments, music and folders must be brought back to school any time during school hours on the 14th or 15th via the parking lot band room door. PLEASE ERASE ALL YOUR MUSIC. Upon entry, please sort your music into the appropriate piles and place your folder back in its slot. Mr. Edwards will go over your instrument with you. Students auditioning for Sr. Jazz may keep their instruments and folders until after they have submitted their audition for the 18th. These students can return their instruments Monday the 21st during regular school hours.
Your final concert will be broadcast on the band YouTube channel on the 17th. The expectation is that you watch the entire concert with your family. Lots to learn and enjoy by seeing and listening to the other bands and being supportive of our HUGE Band Family. Please share the link below with all of your extended family throughout the world and invite them to watch. The link will go live at 5:00PM (local time) on the 17th. Awards pick up will be on the 21st in the band room via the parking lot door... specific times to be announced later.
The Manitoba Band Association has arranged a special awards ceremony just for the students of Westwood Collegiate. I do not have the date for this as of yet, but it will most likely be afterschool sometime the week of the 14th. All band students are expected to attend and join in the celebrations of our band family. Please invite your parents to join you on the couch.... I really believe that this is going to be something specail as they have never done something like this. This is an unprecedented move by Optimist and the Manitoba Band Association so I think it is going to be SUPER EXCITING. As soon as I know the ZOOM link, I will post it on TEAMS.
Best of luck for all of you auditioning for Sr. Jazz. A reminder that recordings are due no later than the 18th at 7:00AM.
Final day of classes for: LTJO, SYMPHONIC BAND and 10 CB will be Friday June 18th. Final day of classes for SR. JAZZ, 9 CONCERT BAND AND B.I.G. BAND will be monday June 21st.
It is with great pleasure and joy that we acknowledge Chase as the March Artist of the Month for his outstanding contributions in the Band and Jazz Band program. Chase has been a member of the band program for the past three years and has demonstrated his awesomeness time and time again through his wonderful alto saxophone playing.This past year, Chase has won several solos and has consistently delivered a very musical performance.In addition, to his concert band playing, Chase took the leap this year and joined jazz band.It has been a great pleasure to watch him fall in love with this new genre of music and new style of playing.
For those of you who do not know Chase, he is an intelligent young man who consistently brightens every room he enters. He has a wonderfully infections smile that automatically makes those around him feel welcome and valued. In addition to his accomplishments in the band program you can catch Chase as an integral part of the Dance Program here at Westwood where he consistently continues to shine.
Outside of school, Chase has been an active member of the Headingley community where has volunteered for numerous events. Chase hopes to wrap up his studies next year at Westwood and hopes to head off to medical school where he plans to be a dermatologist.
Let us all take a moment to celebrate Chase and all of his fantastic accomplishments.
WINNIPEG -- The ban on playing wind instruments in school bands has left some kids hitting the drums, or nothing at all, as COVID-19 measures continue to make music classes a challenge for teachers.
In response a group of concerned parents is rallying to bring band class back to schools, wind instruments included, saying small groups should be allowed now.
“We can do it safely. We’ve toed the line, we’ve been very good for the last year. The kids have not played for a year and they miss it. There’s still a lot of parents paying for musical instruments,” said parent Melissa Davidson, who has two teenagers in band.
Davidson said since her kids haven’t be able to practice with a full quartet, their motivation to play is gone.
That has her concerned about the mental health of all students and the long-term impact of not being able to play together.
“It’s one ingredient of a bigger recipe, so you can do some scales, but you really can’t be part of that creative process by yourself,” Davidson said.
Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, said when it comes to the resumption of band practices, public health orders don’t apply to schools in the same way, but they are part of a system that relies on public health advice.
"We know that certainly things like wind instruments, singing and things can increase risk of transmission. So we're working with this real cautious approach to try to ensure we can keep kids in school, to continue to open things up and as our numbers continue to decline that we'll be able to do more and more of this,” Roussin said.
However, executive director of the Manitoba Band Association, Chelsey Hiebert, said students would continue to wear masks, remain physically distanced and use bell covers over the end of instruments.
“There’s now extensive research that wasn’t available at the beginning of the shut down that shows there’s mitigations that can be put in place that can almost eliminate the risk od aerosol exchange in wind playing” Hiebert said.
Hiebert added that the ongoing restrictions on music programs impact more than just musical skill.
“For a lot of these students and a lot of these children, as parents are noticing first hand, they’ve lost their entire social network. They’ve lost a way into which they participate with their peers and a way to just decompress and relax from other activities,” Hiebert said.
Ross Brownlee, a music teacher at Westgate Mennonite Collegiate, said the absent sound of the wind and brass instruments can be deafening.
“The wind and brass instruments, they have shape, they have melody, they’re pitched instruments. A bucket, well you can get four sounds out of a bucket,” Brownlee said.
In a statement to CTV News Education Minister Cliff Cullen said: “We know students have missed out learning and performing music which is an important part of education and well-being. We are currently consulting teachers and public health on this issue. We ask for the continued patience of students, teachers, and parents as we fight through this pandemic.”
Just in time for the public health ban on band, an order of about 175 bell covers — essentially masks for wind instruments to limit the spread of aerosols through playing — arrived at Westgate Mennonite Collegiate.
Four months later, the equipment remains untouched amid the COVID-19 pandemic, much to the dismay of young musicians.
"I don’t think playing music is any more risky than anything else we’re doing in school," said Ross Brownlee, a music teacher at the private school in Winnipeg. "Band needs to restart. Choir needs to restart. We just need to do it really carefully, for perception and for the safety of our kids."
The province put a moratorium on the indoor use of wind instruments and choir when schools entered a restricted level on the pandemic response system; first, in Winnipeg at the end of October, and later, across the province.
Music teachers have moved classes outside and online, or they have focused on history and theory but Manitoba students, parents and teachers are calling for ensembles to resume in person with safety measures in place.
The issue is dear to families involved with the newly formed Manitoba band parent advocacy group, who signed an open letter to provincial ministers outlining their case.
"For many Manitoba students, these extreme restrictions have not only impaired their musical development, but also destroyed the centre of their social lives and sense of belonging at school," their letter states.
The nearly 30 signatories argue students should be allowed to play instruments indoors if they can play indoor sports.
Internet lag prevents Hepworth’s concert band class from being able to perform together, so instead, students listen to their teacher play exercises and scales and follow along, on mute, at home.
"When you’re in a band, you’re kind of like a team, so you’re all in it together and you can listen to people and blend and make something really amazing," said Hepworth, who attends Transcona Collegiate. "When you’re just on your own… a lot of motivation is gone."
Pre-COVID-19, there were 290 band programs in Manitoba. Many have been affected, owing to pandemic uncertainty and early reports of choral super-spreader events.
"Our message from Day 1 has been the same: safety is of the utmost importance to band students and every Manitoban. Now, we know that extensive research shows (band) can be safe," said Chelsey Hiebert, executive director of the Manitoba Band Association.
A University of Minnesota study published in the fall found that wind instruments typically do not spread aerosols farther than one foot.
This month, a McMaster University review of related research concluded there is no clear evidence of transmission associated with wind instruments, although it is theoretically possible.
Hiebert listed physical distancing, the use of slit masks and bell covers, and allowing time for rooms to breathe to make sure there’s enough air exchange in a space as ways to reduce risk.
Manitoba Education indicated Friday the department is consulting teachers and public health officials.
"We know students have missed out on learning and performing music, which is an important part of education and well-being," Education Minister Cliff Cullen said in an emailed statement, adding Manitobans are asked to remain patient as the pandemic wears on.
Meantime, french horn player Katie Skwarchuk said outdoor rehearsals are far from practical since cold weather can damage instruments and affect brass players’ pitch.
"As a growing musician, I feel that I’ve lost a sense of purpose in my life. I can’t connect with others through a shared love and interest in making music together," said Skwarchuk, a senior at Vincent Massey Collegiate.
As Skwarchuk waits to hear whether she’s been accepted into post-secondary music programs, she said she’s nervous her skills will be rusty next year because of her limited ability to practise in a band at present.
Manitoba is considering allowing music facilities to open for individual instruction and limited capacity group classes as early as March 5.
Fitzhenry said she hopes that means there’s finally "a crack in the door" for the resumption of school band.
Need some one on one time with Mr.E? Shoot me and email at email@example.com and we can book a TEAMS or ZOOM meeting and get your questions answered in person.... and maybe even a tour of our beautiful facilities.