École McTavish Band’s New York Trip
École McTavish High School Band’s New York trip was an unforgettable experience. A total of 42 students from grades 9 through 11 got to take part in the incredible adventure to New York this April. The eye-opening trip left so many of us with a new perspective and confidence along with a memorable week.
The first day, students got to experience a Broadway Clinic with award-winning Broadway conductor Brent Frederick. With his assistance, students were able to quickly learn never before heard music. Joined by Broadway singer, Dwayne Clarke (The Colour Purple, In the Heights), students gained awareness of a “true” Broadway rehearsal giving them an amazing experience.
“This moment provided an opportunity for students to see the far-reaching appeal of music; how song, dance and visual performances draw humans together and are the foundation of tourism. Students got to experience first-hand all the possibilities that a career in music can offer. I heard several students state, 'Miss, I could see myself living here one day,’” says Ms. Janice Doucette, our English teacher, who accompanied us.
The broadening view continued the next day as the École McTavish Band gained same fans from Public School 8 in Brooklyn. We had prepared a selection of songs including a melody of well-known numbers from Queen like: “Another One Bites the Dust,” “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions.” The students shared their enthusiasm while singing and clapping along providing encouragement and putting a smile on the band's face.
“The stomping and smiles made our day. The kids were so happy and there was joy was in the room, which brought a grin to my face,” says grade 9 student, Shadiq.
The final day, the big moment the students had worked so hard for, festival day. The band had been entered to play in the Heritage Music Festival, an international festival that was held all across cities in North America. The nerve-wracking feeling and excitement created an atmosphere of anticipation. As it was the “real deal.” students were brought together to calm one another and assure each other that the best was to happen.
After the performance of the three songs, “The New Day Arisen”, “The Rowan Tree”, and “Black Granite” we were all smiles with exhilaration. Later in the evening, the school band was awarded Silver, a single point away from Gold. With a band made of more than half of grade 9 students and participating in a grade 10-12 festival, the results were better than what was expected. Placing top in the category, the excitement travelled through the group at lightning speed.
Our band Music Director, Ms. Ashley Brockway, had been looking for years for a trip such as this.
“It had been a dream of mine to bring a group of students to New York, and this group of musicians really rose to the challenge competing in an international festival,” she said.
“I think the experience was rewarding for our students not only as an opportunity to travel and experience a new place but also inspired them as musicians. I’ve never had students work so hard to master challenging music, and the most rewarding moment for me was hearing how proud they were when they were finished playing. New York seemed to spark a passion in them to reach just beyond what they thought was possible,” Ms. Brockway added.
Having one last hurrah in the Big Apple on a dinner cruise ship with all the participants of the festival, students were given an eye-opener of the opportunities that lie in the music world and that the possibilities are endless.
When the students made their way back to Fort McMurray, they were inspired and ready to continue and share their passion for music with the community. As our teacher, Ms. Samantha Stone said, “Media depicts it (New York) as a gritty metropolis, but the people were surprisingly kind and hospitable. I am grateful for the opportunity to explore the city, but most importantly getting to see it through the eyes of our students. Their enthusiasm and curiosity made this a memory that will be hard to beat in my teaching career.”
The adventure is surely etched into the hearts of the teachers and the young musicians and will be cherished and remembered for years to come.