Revamped summer band program offered at St. Michaels school

High school student-musicians have an opportunity to expand their skills in July, during a summer band program at St. Michaels school.

A summer tradition is being rekindled in the school music community in Greater Victoria.

For 20 years or so, band teachers Colin Campbell, John Fawcett and Tom White set aside time on their summer break to teach students keen on building musical skills and doing something fun over the summer holidays.

The three are now retired and the full summer band program fell dormant. Until now.

Jeff Weaver, Campbell’s replacement at Oak Bay High, and Marianne Ing, who added the band program to her repertoire at Central middle school when Weaver left, are among a group of 10 music educators who hope to stem the loss of young musicians from high school bands by offering something extra.

The group has revamped the band camp idea and beefed up the offerings for a summer band program being held at St. Michaels University School from July 8 to 19.

The summer sessions, aimed at middle and high school students, include jazz band, concert band, and new features, jazz combos and non-jazz chamber music.

“There’s something offered for everyone,” Weaver says.

He notes the instruction the students will receive, both in groups and individually, is exceptional, with the likes of Victoria Conservatory of Music woodwind guru Gord Clements and Victoria Symphony players joining the middle and high school teachers.

“You’re getting experienced teachers who know how to work with students. And they’re all specialists. All of us music teachers are pros on something – these guys have got killer chops and they can play anything.”

Ing, who plays trumpet professionally outside of school, has been involved with summer band for a decade or so.

She says it’s incredible how much more a student can learn over the course of two weeks by picking up their instrument every day.

“By the end of it, what they’ve managed to accomplish is really quite amazing,” Ing says. “Of the kids that come to summer band, if you present them with something on Day 1 or 2, they take it home and practice it and bring it back being able to play it.”

Graduating Oak Bay High trombonist Galen Rohon-O’Halloran says he has many good memories of the people he met and the improvements he made by putting in the extra work.

“It’s really fun and it’s not a tedious or boring music camp,” he says. “You improve, definitely, because you’re getting a bunch of different opinions on music from some excellent musicians.”

See smus.ca/programs/extension/academies or call 250-592-2411.