For the senior band students of Grades six, seven and eight, it was their last musical performance in the only school most have known since kindergarten.
The ‘senior’ public school students will be transitioned into a high school environment in the fall where they will become juniors once again.
The Finale concert held on Thursday, June 13th at Port Elgin Saugeen Central School (PESC) was a testament to the importance of music in the education system. Adults who played in the school bands from the 1970s and 1980s recounted their memories of playing, as will the students of today when they become adults.
The concert was also a tribute by alumni to music teachers of the past such as Wayne McGrath and Cam Porter. Porter was the music teacher for 32 teachers and lead the school band to many gold medals in musical performance. When asked what his favourite memories were, he replied, “It was toward the end of my last year when Matthew Patterson was confirmed as my successor. I saw how well he worked with the students and the bands and knew the music program would be in excellent hands.”
Under teacher Cam Porter, the school won Gold as the first elementary school ‘Jazz Band’ ever to enter competition. Today, he is still intensively involved in music as a musician playing with the Port Elgin Community Band, the Beatles Tribute Band, the Noodle Factory band and others.
What always amazes me at the school concerts of today, is the calibre of music. These students do not play simple little pieces that one might expect from a public school band. Instead, they are playing movie themes such as Indiana Jones, Apollo 13 and the Lion King and then they move just as easily in Latin pieces like Viva La Vida and on into 1940s jazz selections like Georgia on My Mind. There are jazz quartets and soloists who play music that should be far beyond their years … but they make it sound smooth and easy.
The bands continually bring home Gold medals and are admired by adjudicators for selections such as the ‘Celtic Air and Dance #4″, that an adjudicator said he had “… never heard the piece performed to such a high standard in all his years of adjudicating”.
In talking with some of the musicians after the concert, they said that they want to continue their music into high school and beyond. Fortunately, teacher Matthew Patterson will be continuing in a new format. He will continue teaching in a ‘split’ situation with his senior band at their new high school home at Saugeen District Secondary School (SDSS) while still being able to teach the junior students at PESC.
As a non-musician, I can only admire the dedication and commitment that these students have had to become as accomplished as they are. They say that music has a definite correlation with mathematics and to listen and watch these young people is to understand that concept. They have to concentrate on timing (which is mathematically based), teamwork as they work with those around them, motor skills to play the instruments, listening skills and more.
If anyone, including governments, do not appreciate the value of music and the impact it has on the future generations and the value it adds to the citizens of the country, should take the time out to experience a school concert.