By Joseph H.
Despite the risk of being cancelled, the 2015 Intermediate Band Camp concluded safely (a somewhat rare occurrence in Westmount), and during the overnight trip, the abilities of the band have increased in leaps and bounds. Through copious amounts of playing (almost 12 hours), and the assistance of a guest conductor, many of the issues within the songs were eliminated.
The Intermediate Band Camp is an annual event that occurs in springtime, as an intensive overnight camp to improve the abilities of the players in preparation of the Alberta Band Association’s Festival of Bands, which takes place later in May. This year, the location of the camp was Camp River’s Edge, located an hour outside of Calgary.
The camp started with an early morning bus ride, which departed at 8:00 am on May 4th. Immediately after the arrival at camp, the playing began. The first full ensemble rehearsal took the entire morning, and the main focal point of that rehearsal was to prepare the band for the guest conductor, Mike Sakatch. “He was cool,” says Alan Yan, one of the most experienced clarinets in the band, “Don’t know much else to say about him.” The guest conductor session started immediately after lunch, and continued until afternoon activities. In this session, Mr. Sakatch corrected many issues within the music, ranging from imprecise articulation to balance within the band, to dynamics. During this two-hour session, the quality of the music improved from a package of notes to actual music.
After the time with the guest conductor was over, the activities took place. This year, the activities included gym games, paracord bracelet making (with an additional fee attached), and everyone’s favorite, archery. The activities were cycled between the brass and the woodwinds, so that while the brass participated in their activities, the woodwinds has a rehearsal, and vice versa. “By doing physical activities, it was good, after the playing, since we are just staying inside and playing,” Ashley Yap, a participant of gym games, quotes.
A crucial part of bands is teamwork, the ability to fit in with the rest of the group to improve the quality of the group overall. In order to build this, every member of the band participated in a teambuilding activity before the end of the day. Every year, this activity changes, but the main point of the activity remains the same: improve the teamwork of the band members. This year, the activity was to create shelter from a single newspaper and an arm’s length of tape.
On the second day, in addition to even more playing, there were sectionals, where the goal is to practice with other members in the section to clean up the rough parts of the music. “Honestly, it was awful, because this one boy did nothing,” says Quentin Michalchuk, a violin player, “he refused to stand up (violin players are supposed to stand up when they play)”. Despite this negative review of sectionals, there were some who believed that the sectionals were productive.
At the end, there was the highlight of the camp: The Intermediate Air Band Competition 2015. Every year, the performers show their lip-syncing and air-guitar skills. Felicia, a percussionist nicknamed ‘Fish’, quotes that “It was interesting. All of the students were enthusiastic. But it got a little crazy.” Although this event often gets out of hand, everyone loves this event.
Band Camp was an enjoyable experience as always, and because of this event, the abilities of the performers have improved through grinding their skills in this intensive overnight camp.