Monday, May 6 was Music Monday across Canada, and the Good Spirit School Division’s band program celebrated by bringing the bands together. Approximately 1,000 students from schools across the division were in the Gallagher Centre Flexihall to play a selection of music together, culminating in all of the students playing Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.
Yorkdale School’s Scott Yemen, one of the music directors behind the GSSD’s event, said that the goal of the day is to show the importance of music education.
“We celebrated that very well today by bringing literally every one of our bands from the school division together.”
Getting all of the students playing together at once was a challenge. Band directors had to conduct in unison to keep the band on track, and the band had only played together as a 1,000 piece ensemble after about an hour of practice that morning. The plan was crazy and ambitious, Yemen admitted, but they pulled it off.
“When we hit our first notes in warm-up this morning, I literally recoiled in joy because it was one of the most intense sounds I’ve ever heard... To have that many kids work together, and play together, and listen together, it’s really cool, shows a lot of positive about our kids.”
He admits that at the beginning, they didn’t know how it would go, not only coordinating that many kids but eight conductors as well.
“Logistically, putting that many kids, that far apart, it’s tough to keep together, but when you did it, it was awesome.”
The full room of young musicians was an example of the sheer number of people in the area who music touches, Yemen said. That includes the kids playing and their families. The ability to hold an event, with that many kids playing together, shows the support of the school division, of families, of the community at large and of businesses who sponsored the day.
“Music has a far reach. In this time when the world is a little crazy, music is something to come back to. It’s great to see that we still think it’s important around here.”
Yemen said that the day wouldn’t be possible without the support of the GSSD. He said that a strong band program is part of a tradition in the community that goes back decades.
“Lots of school divisions don’t support band to this level, and we would love to see other school divisions get to this level.”