BAND-EMIC Year in Review!

It’s been quite the challenging year for WKC Bands (please follow wkcbands on Instagram!), but we rose to the challenge and did everything we possibly could, when we could. Students persevered, learned new things, musically enriched themselves independently, made music as individuals, made music in small groups, and even managed to present their work in the form of an online ZOOM ‘concert’!

In one run-on sentence, here’s what it all looked like: WE CAN PLAY IN SMALL GROUPS- YAY!…, but hold on and wait for instrument PPE to come in…, some instrument PPE came in so we can play in REALLY small groups…, BAM: we’re now NOT allowed to play, so let’s play rhythms on paper…, timetable flip…, music listening: music that tells stories…, musical show and tell…. boomwhackers… WINTER BREAK…., distant learning 2.0…, semester 1 ends…, let’s learn guitar!…., WHOAH: WE CAN PLAY AGAIN SO LET’S RECORD AS MUCH AS WE CAN BEFORE THE TIMETABLE FLIP…., timetable flip…., QUICK- LET’S RECORD AND GET A COUPLE OF SONGS IN THE CAN…, distant learning 3.0…. aaaand… HAVE A GOOD SUMMER!!

Is your head spinning? Mine is!… but WE DID IT!!

Not only did we make it through this crazy year, but we also did some really great things, learned a lot, and even managed to put on a “concert”!

The online ZOOM concert happened on June 16 and featured stacked recordings that WKC Band Students made in small groups over a period of several months while we were allowed to play our instruments in school.

One of the songs we presented is a piece that the WKC Grade 9 Band Students learn every year: March Chromatica by Mark Williams. This march is a fabulous “teaching” tune that revolves around the chromatic scale, which is a scale that involves every single pitch: all the notes, all the sharps, all the flats; you need to know EVERY note on your instrument in order to play March Chromatica! This year’s Grade 9’s had the HUGE challenge of learning the song in small groups over only a few weeks, rather than in a “strength in numbers” larger group over a couple of months… AND THEY DID IT! Grade 10, 11, and 12 Band Students, being the servant-leaders they are, also re-learned and recorded the tune so that they could support this year’s Grade 9’s in their learning, so thank you to the Grade 10 – 12’s for having the Grade 9’s backs!

The recording and slide show below was presented at our June 16 ZOOM Concert. It is 12 small group recordings piled on top of each other, creating a VIRTUAL 2021 WKC MASSED BAND! The “clicking” you hear is a metronome which every small group played along with so that we all would play at EXACTLY the same tempo in order for the recordings to line up when they were combined…


The other piece we presented at the ZOOM Concert was something that we had planned to play at our 2020 Spring Concert: “Soundtrack Highlights from Avengers Endgame”, arranged by Michael Brown. We had just started learning this piece in March 2020, and we were really looking forward to playing it… aaaand then the world shut down… but just like The Avengers: WE WOULD NOT BE DEFEATED, WE WILL FINISH THIS!!!

Putting this piece together had some big challenges because it is collection of several melodies that happen at different speeds, so recording the whole song at once in small groups and then hoping it would all line up on a computer was not a good plan. We instead recorded the piece in sections: four different sections. One of those sections was recorded by 12 small groups (Grade 9 – 12), one was recorded by 6 small groups (Grade 10 – 12), one was recorded by 4 small groups (Grade 11 – 12), and one section had a bit of everything: 4 small groups some of the time, 12 small groups some of the time… and then trying to make it all sound consistent through all of those edits… YEAAAHHH!!!… but you know what? IT WORKED!! Unfortunately, we were sent home before we had the chance to record the introduction, but I did include a sample recording of the introduction in our presentation so that the whole piece would be there, and I had fun with some goofy pics during the intro too (first 40 seconds). After the 40 second mark and once the student pics turn up… what you’re hearing is ALL WEST K!!

So, here is the 2021 WKC Massed Virtual Band playing Soundtrack Highlights from Avengers Endgame!…

At the Spring Concert we always acknowledge the WKC Band Grads and their families. Since last year’s Spring Concert was cancelled due to the pandemic, this year we were happy to celebrate the WKC Band Grads from 2020 AND from 2021…


There were nearly 70 devices connected to the June 16 ZOOM Concert, and many of those devices represented families gathered around a computer to celebrate their young musician’s accomplishments… similar to the reason families gather in the school gym to do so in a normal year. I could almost see the families in the bleachers as I looked towards my blaring ZOOM light!

During the block of time when we were not allowed to play wind instruments in school, we took the opportunity to begin to learn to play guitar. A big thank you to The Seven Oaks School Division for their support in acquiring the guitars, and thanks to our online friend, Marty, for his great guitar resources!

WKC Band Students also did a lot of great things during their distant learning this Spring: compiling and sharing lists of impactful music, learning guitar, learning piano, creating electronic music… so many great examples of ongoing musical engagement!

This spring we also had the opportunity to be enriched by a student teacher, Mx. Karman. We were sent off to distant learning shortly after she started her student teaching block, at which time she worked with students online listening to, studying, and adding to wind band pieces written by Women Composers, and by Composers of Colour. The unique perspectives and great music were great experiences for us all. Thank you Mx. Karman!

WKC Jazz Band Students spent this year with some “Fake Book” standards: listening to examples, learning the melodies, and sharing them with each other online. The Jazz Band final project this year was for each student to record themselves playing one of the Jazz standards, and to improvise around that song. There were so many great examples of solo playing, several of which were featured as “pre-show entertainment” at our June 16 ZOOM concert! We also started to learn a full jazz ensemble tune called “The Lick”, which we may perform in the future… perhaps at the 2022 Arts in the Park!

Congratulations folks, you did it! You were musically engaged, you made music, and you presented a ‘concert’… in the middle of a pandemic! BRAVO!!

We are closer to the end of this, closer every day. You did great things this year, and more great things are coming. Hang in there!

See you in the Fall,