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And the band plays on

Students in the D.P. Todd Secondary School music program will be looking to turn disappointment into opportunity.

Disappointment comes in the form of a cancelled trip to the MusicFest Canada Nationals, which had been scheduled for May 18-23 in Calgary. The senior and junior bands from D.P. Todd had invitations to attend the event but it has been called off because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With nationals now out of the picture, the students – particularly the graduating members of the senior group – will try to find ways to celebrate their final year in the program and pass the musical torch to those who will be returning in the 2020-21 school year.

“I’ve been phoning all my kids and talking to my Grade 12s and, especially for them, I want them to know that going forward over the next few weeks in our music learning that we’re really going to work as a team as far as the kind of legacy we can leave behind, as this year is different than any other year that we’ve had,” said teacher Susan Klein. “Even if it means this is our graduating year, what can we do as a group of Grade 12s that we leave a history for the rest of the program?

“So we will be working to see if we can do some sort of online things. There will be online learning in some regard but I don’t know quite how it’s going to look, whether we’re going to connect our Grade 12s with some of the younger kids, like a buddy-up system, and they can work and help them, or maybe we can develop some sort of memory book from each Grade 12 and put it together and then that’s something we’ll have at our fingertips all the time as a program.”

The senior and junior bands – about 90 students in total – were invited to the 2020 MusicFest Canada Nationals based on their shining performances at Fanfare 2019 in Prince George. Even though students had been looking forward to the trip for so long, Klein said they handled the cancellation with class and grace.

“They are very socially responsible and they really care about the world around them and the people around them,” Klein said. “Even though they are sad – some of them now have lost their jobs or whatever – they go, ‘That’s OK, I’m doing OK and I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.’ I just was so impressed with their attitude.

“We learn with our music how to adapt on the fly and how to be sensitive to people around us and how to look at all the different aspects of a situation. These are skills they are taking right into the moment today in history.”

Klein, who has instructed and conducted outstanding bands for many years at D.P. Todd, said this particular group has a strong bond, student to student and musician to musician.

“They have a lot of empathy for each other,” she said. “The teamwork, the power of the family that we have, is huge in this group and I’ve just enjoyed working with that so much. They cheer for each other, they lift each other up. That’s what we want to have them bring into the world.”

Graduating flute player Danielle Haggarty described the senior band members as “super awesome” and said she’s thankful for the time she has had to play alongside everyone.

“Ms. Klein just makes us really special and we work super hard because of that – for ourselves but also for her,” Haggarty said. “We know our worth and that we practice enough that we sound good.”

The senior band from College Heights Secondary School had also earned an invitation to this year’s nationals.

All invitations for 2020 have been extended one extra year. In 2021, the MusicFest Canada Nationals will be held in Niagara Falls. 

“I’m not sure that’s something we can even think about right now,” Klein said. “I’m just going to hold tight on that. I know we’ll have something planned for next year.”

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