|The Kelowna Secondary School Grade 12 Jazz Band, under the direction of Sheila French (second from left front row), is just one of the groups that will perform over the two-night Encore shows at the Kelowna Community Theatre.|
Encore is also the name of the Kelowna Secondary School's biggest music concert of the year - so big that it will take over the Kelowna Community Theatre two nights in a row in order to fit all the musical groups in. And chances are, both nights, proud parents and friends will be yelling out, "Encore!"
"We've got 200 kids in the music program this year," noted Sheila French, who along with co-director Neil Wong, runs the music programs at KSS, "and some of them are in five or six groups or more."
One of those musicians is Grade 11 student, Bobbi-Jo Bornau. The 16-year-old first started playing trumpet in Grade 7 while attending Dr. Knox Middle School and was rehearsing with the Grade 12 jazz band when eVent! caught up with her. She also loves to sing and will perform four different times through the concerts.
"I do mostly vocal combos and vocal jazz," she said.
Like most of the music students, Bornau ends up spending a great deal of time in the music rooms.
"I wouldn't have it any other way," she said.
For French and Wong, teaching music to high school kids requires working a lot of different hours from what most of us associate with teachers. A lot of the curriculum classes are outside regular school hours.
"For example," French noted, "I teach chamber choir three mornings a week at 7:30 a.m. and there are combos going at 7:30 and 8 a.m.; we have other combos going at lunch time; we have rhythm and blues after school on Wednesdays; Tuesdays and Thursdays I have vocal jazz and vocal combo after school; and Monday night I have orchestra."
So basically, she's in the band room ready to work by 7:15 a.m. every Monday and doesn't finish until after the kids file out sometime after 8:30 p.m. Clearly, she must love what she does? "Yes," she says, "I do."
From concert band to vocal jazz, rhythm and blues to orchestra, the school offers a wide range of musical experiences for their students and at the upcoming concert, they will all have a chance to shine on the stage. "We have a lot of students involved and a wide range of musical opportunities for them here," said French.
Many former KSS students have gone on to study in prestigious music programs across North America and the school has traditionally done very well when competing in festivals. However, French is quick to point out, that is not what their focus is.
"For us, the focus is the teaching aspect, the experience and the chance to be exposed to a lot of different styles."
"Being excellent in what we do is important and for me, but the connection I have with the kids is what I love most about what I do," she said.
Matt Steen is one of those kids who has truly benefitted from the rich diversity of the music program at KSS. The Grade 12 student plays drums.
"I started taking lessons when I was seven or eight," he recalled, then he began playing in bands at middle school. "I was playing in the concert band in Grade 7 but
I was getting bored of concert band," he confessed, "because it was mostly just doing percussion."
That all changed when he discovered jazz.
"I like jazz a lot," he said, smiling. "
"With concert band, all you're doing really is the cymbal, snare drum or bass drum, and that's it, but with jazz you get to do all that at once. Also, you feel like your playing more with the band with jazz," he said.
Neither Bornau or Steen know just yet if they will pursue music as a full time career but for now, both are excited about playing in the upcoming concert.
"Right now I'm not really sure what
I want to do," said Steen, "but I definitely don't want to ever give up music - it will always be part of my life."
What: KSS Encore 2013
Where: Kelowna Community Theatre
When: Feb 5 and 6 at 7 p.m.
Tickets: Adults are $15 for one night or $20 for both, students are $5 for one night, $7 for both, available at Mosaic Books, KSS or by calling 250-870-5000 ext. 6804.