Glendale High School teachers John Lam and Sarah Haas have been spreading the word – they're putting the bands back together.
Glendale's Junior Band, Senior Band and Choir.
"What we want to share with the community is that we have a good music program here at the high school," said Lam, head of performing arts at GHS. "It's vibrant."
And they want to share that vibrancy.
It started last winter with their first Wassail, a festive 'good health, good cheer' seasonal celebration concert in December. That tradition continued a couple weeks ago (Dec. 18) with their second annual Wassail in a packed Ross-O'Rourke gymnasium.
"We want the kids to feel part of something the community is aware of," said Lam on the eve of the 2014 Wassail. "We want the community to feel free to come to our concerts – not just parents. Here, in a town like Tillsonburg, it should be a big deal – it's their high school. We want greater awareness. We're here, we're building..."
"I think music was a big deal – and the community has been supportive – in Ed Steer's days," said Haas, recalling the popular retired (June 2010) music teacher. "I think it seemed that way. What we're saying now is... 'just a reminder, we're still here.'"
To help bring their band community together, they created a logo for their new band jackets. It makes them feel like they're part of something good, said Lam, recalling the words of a band member.
"It means something to the kids, and those are the things we want the community to know – 'hey, we have a good band here.' And we want the community to know that we are going to be increasingly doing more activities.
"We've already had a fall concert. That's where we kind of roll out the groups. It lets the parents know, this is the starting point. And they sound good. But parents will notice by this time of year they sound a lot better."
They are definitely not 'two concerts a year', Lam stressed.
"They are capable of so much more than that," Haas nodded.
"We have some good performers in the school," he said, noting both Junior and Senior bands performed at a gold level at the last Rotary Festival in Woodstock, and they were invited to play at the provincial level. "That was a big deal."
Choir, he admitted, has been a bit harder sell.
"We're looking down the road. Once we establish Junior Band, Senior Band, Choir, in the second part of the year we'll be forming a jazz band. And we have small chamber groups starting to form where kids get into groups of threes or fours. They do some of that on their own, and it's good."
The New Year will see Glendale entering a regional Musicfest in London, Rotary Festival in Woodstock, Variety Is at JLC in London, in addition to performing at their own spring concert.
"We play anything from concert band to jazz," said Lam. "We tackle a wide range of repertoire spanning from the Baroque to 20th Century Modern."
There are currently about 120 students in the Junior/Senior bands, he said.
"That's a lot of kids."
The rejuvenation experience is also happening in their music room, which is being renovated for the first time in... years.
"It was from the '60s maybe?" said Haas. "It's getting painted."