It’s just a few hours before showtime at the School of Music.
Korona Brophy, who directs the Faculty of Education’s Lab Band and Orchestra Program, along with aspiring music teacher, Emma Clark of St. John’s, arranges chairs and music stands preparing for an influx of Grade Five students.
Over three decades
It’s the Lab Band and Orchestra Program’s annual holiday concert, and though this ritual has been repeated numerous times for more than 30 years, no one event is ever the same.
That’s because every year a new crop of Grade Five students from elementary schools around St. John’s signs up for the program, and a new crop of pre-service teachers prepares to teach them.
“Working with children and sharing my teaching experiences with pre-service teachers is something I really enjoy,” said Ms. Brophy, who has instructed the program for the past 10 years, after retiring from her 30-year career as a music teacher.
“We’re getting pre-service teachers ready for teaching, showing them how to do assessments, reports, and how to motivate and work with children.”
The Lab Band and Orchestra Program was initiated in 1976 by legendary music educator and teacher Leo Sandavol, who taught at Memorial and was a band teacher at St. Pius X School in St. John’s. It’s an integral part of the Faculty of Education’s Instrumental Music Teaching Methods (ED3920) course and attracts would-be music teachers from across the country.
1/ String theory
2/ Toot your own horn!
3/ Music mentoring
4/ Inspiring instructor
5/ Guitar girl
6/ Terrific teaching experience
7/ Mellow cello
This year’s cohort of students is homegrown, from communities around Newfoundland and Labrador.
Young musicians have arrived at the D.F. Cook Recital Hall for their final rehearsal. Soon, clarinets, flutes, saxophones, trumpets, trombones, violins, cellos, and electric and bass guitars are in student hands. Percussionists take their places at the back of the stage where they’ll move between the drums and bells.
“I love this,” said Ms. Clark, who assembles her own flute and helps tune other wind instruments.
“Lab band is so cool.”
Even though her mother is a music teacher, Ms. Clark says she “never expected” to pursue a teaching career. Her experience in lab band, and in her conducting classes, changed her.
“I was a performance major in my fourth year, and I had a couple of music students, and began to discover that I’m a teacher. Lab band is so cool. All of us have never taught all of these instruments until now, but you have to stay ahead of them to stay ahead of your students.”
“All my years”
“You make friends and learn lots,” said trumpet player and St. Matthew’s Elementary Grade Five student Desmond Young, one of the first to take his place on stage. “And you sort of get a step ahead of the band program at school. I think I’m going to do band all my years.”
Working in 45-minute classes twice a week, students do progress quickly. It’s great for their confidence.
“When we started out we didn’t even know how to put our instruments together. Now, we can play all kinds of songs.”
“I can go high and low,” said Mr. Young, whose repertoire for the evening concert includes Jingle Bells, Jolly Old St. Nicholas and We Wish You a Merry Christmas.
“We’ve learned to get a really good sound,” said Veronica O’Brien, a clarinet player and a Grade Five student at Cowan Heights Elementary. “And when we started out we didn’t even know how to put our instruments together. Now, we can play all kinds of songs.”
Pre-service teacher Anna Moreau of St. Johns loves seeing how children who had a difficult time when they first started gain confidence in their skills.
“Teaching makes me happy. I love working with kids.”