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Senior School Music

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Music at the Senior School

St. George’s School has a well-established music program whose ensembles are consistently ranked among the best in Canada. Its Wind Ensemble, Senior Concert Band, and Junior Concert Band have each earned the Dal Richards Award for Best Band in BC at the Vancouver Kiwanis Festival, and all ensembles have received Gold Standards and twelve invitations to the National Festival, Musicfest Canada, for their recent festival performances. The Senior Concert Band tours regularly within Canada, the United States, and to Europe. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the group had to cancel the European Tour and instead undertake a virtual musical collaboration with two schools in Germany. The result was a collaborative performance of Sidewalk Learnin’ by Gary Gilroy.

Mentorship is an integral part of the learning experience in the music program at St. George’s School. In addition to working with their directors, students in the music program work regularly with guest conductors and guest artists in the artist residency program. Recent guest conductors have included: Gerard Morris (University of Puget Sound); Rob Taylor (University of British Columbia); Gerald King (University of Victoria); Cody Meyers (Director of Arts, Amarillo Independent School District); and Darren Oehlerking (University of Saskatchewan). In addition, the program regularly hosts guest soloists in a variety of performances. Recent soloists include: Mary Backun (clarinet); Valerie Whitney (horn); Jeremy Berkman (trombone); and François Houle (clarinet).

The St. George’s Senior School Winter and Spring Concerts are a highlight of the school year. They feature each of the major ensembles and are an opportunity for students to share and celebrate their work with friends and family. These festive occasions are a key component of the learning process for musicians: the experience of a live performance is like no other. Nervousness, excitement, anticipation, pride, fear, and satisfaction are but a few of the emotions students undergo. As they move through their years at the Senior School, students can look back at their musical journey and see how far they have progressed as young musicians. Their virtual concerts and recent live performances have all been recorded and are archived on the School’s livestream page.


List of 2 members.

  • Photo of Dean Markel

    Dean Markel 

    Head of Music Senior School
  • Photo of Rob Murray

    Rob Murray 

    Music Teacher Senior School
    (604) 224 1304

Curricular Courses (Regular School Timetable)

List of 5 items.

  • Band 8

    Junior Concert Band 8 is a full year elective for students who typically are in their second or third year of playing a musical instrument*. As a performance-based course, most of the time will be spent learning about music by playing it. Topics covered include tone, articulation, dynamics, blend, balance, intonation, rhythm, style, and interpretation. We will focus on learning how to play instruments better individually, as well as how to perform as a unified ensemble. In addition, students will be required to prepare: scales; etudes; solos; and participate in chamber ensembles during the year. Students will be introduced to a variety of pieces with contrasting styles and increasing technical demands throughout the year and will quickly discover that progress on their instrument is directly related to the amount of time and effort spent—developing a consistent and effective practice routine will be essential for success in Band 8. 

    * Students who are new to Band will have an opportunity to choose an appropriate instrument and will work in a separate group for the first several months on an accelerated course of study. Students will integrate into the full ensemble as their skills develop.
  • Band 9

    Intermediate Concert Band 9 is a full year elective for students who typically are experienced musical players*. As a performance-based course, most of the time will be spent learning about music by playing it. Topics covered include tone, articulation, dynamics, blend, balance, intonation, rhythm, style, and interpretation. Students will refine their ensemble skills, and spend time exploring and developing expression and improvisation. In addition, students will be required to prepare: scales; etudes; solos; and participate in chamber ensembles during the year. Students will be introduced to a variety of pieces with contrasting styles and increasing technical demands throughout the year as they participate in concerts, workshops, masterclasses, and festival experiences. Considerable time and effort will be spent developing a goal-oriented and reflective practice routine, essential for success in Band 9.

    * Students who are new to Band will have an opportunity to choose an appropriate instrument and will work in a separate group for the first several months on an accelerated course of study. Students will integrate into the full ensemble as their skills develop.
  • Senior Band

    Students enrolled in Band 10, 11, & 12 form the Senior Concert Band. This course is open only to students who have prior experience on a woodwind, brass, or percussion instrument or by permission of the instructor. Senior Band builds on the foundational skills established in Band 8 and 9. Whatever your current level, you will find that this ensemble will challenge you as a musician. It is this challenge that will provide growth and development for each student and director as we explore a variety of repertoire for the concert band. The concepts of tone, articulation, balance, blend, interpretation, technique, and phrasing form the basis of all instruction. Large ensemble and small ensemble works are performed with emphasis on concert band literature. Excellence of performance is stressed while students are taught to refine their musical skills and talent through a series of activities which include concerts, festivals, master classes, and yearly tours. Concert Band is the ideal venue for students who are interested in exploring their passion for music and working collaboratively with others. As Senior Band is a three-year journey including numerous concerts, performance tours, and adjudicated festivals, students will continuously reflect on the Big Idea that growth as a musician requires perseverance, resilience, and risk taking.
  • AP Music Theory 12

    AP Music Theory 12 is offered as a supplement to the music program and is open to interested students interested in deepening their understanding of music theory. Its purposes are to prepare the student for the Advanced Placement exam in Music Theory while allowing the student to explore compositional and theoretical issues pertaining to the European art music traditions (ie. "classical music"). The course is tailored to the interests of the participating students within the confines of exam preparation. Topics covered include basics of harmony, formal structure of music, sight singing, introductory history, and analysis. Other topics that are often explored include composition, arranging, and orchestration. The AP Music Theory 12 students learn the basics of MIDI (computer music) composition and performance through access to and use of the MIDI Lab. Royal Conservatory Theory is helpful but not a prerequisite.
  • Contemporary Music 11/12

    Are you interested in music but unsure of how or where to start your journey? If so, Contemporary Music 11/12 may be just the course for you. This full year course is designed to give students a basic understanding of music and to inspire an appreciation for music from a variety of genres and cultures. We will apply the elements of music to music from the medieval through contemporary periods, learn how to read and apply music notation by performing as an ensemble, and investigate how music has changed throughout history, as well as highlighting social influences. This unique course is a blend of classroom learning and performance lab experience, giving each student hands-on creative exploration. If you are curious about music and excited to explore and experiment, we look forward to seeing you in Contemporary Music 11/12. No prerequisite is required.

Jazz Ensembles

St. George’s offers instruction in jazz through large ensembles where students experience the fundamental swing styles of Count Basie and Duke Ellington, and expand into funk, latin and other jazz genres. performing a variety of repertoire in order to better understand various jazz styles. Entrance into these ensembles is by audition and successful students are then placed into either the Junior or Senior Jazz Ensemble according to ability. These groups rehearse twice each week outside of the regular timetable, and students receive course credit.

To participate, all students must be co-enrolled in the curricular band course at their current grade level.

List of 4 items.

  • Junior Jazz Ensemble

    Junior Jazz Ensemble is an opportunity for proficient and interested students to learn to play jazz in a big band setting. Students will undertake a journey exploring the history and repertoire of the major eras of jazz, including learning basic improvisation techniques. As an introductory course much of our effort will be devoted to internalizing the “feel” and “concept” of swing. We will do this through rehearsal, performance, and listening to many exemplary recordings. We will perform at the Winter and Spring Music Department Concerts, as well as at the Envisions Jazz Festival (February), the BC Interior Jazz Festival (April), and at the School Fair. 
  • Senior Jazz Ensemble

    Senior Jazz Ensemble is an ensemble of musicians with an interest and experience in exploring all kinds of jazz. Students should have at least one year experience playing jazz and must be current members of the Concert Band at their grade level. The focus of the ensemble is in learning jazz style, tradition, and improvisation, including components of directed listening to discover the cultural context of the music we play. The Senior Jazz Ensemble typically performs at both of the departmental concerts in December and April, at local music festivals and at the School Fair.  Additionally there is a tradition of a Kelowna trip each April to the BC Interior Jazz Festival.
  • Jazz Combos (Co-Curricular)

    Jazz Combos are a music performance workshop (co-curricular) focused on small group jazz.  These groups delve into more advanced jazz theory and language, arranging, and the study of playing compositions with a focus on improvisation in a combo setting.  In addition to arranging and performing, students also undertake brief listening/reading assignments and responses before evolving into a more student-led group. To participate, students must be co-enrolled in the curricular Band course at their current grade level
  • Wind Ensemble (Co-Curricular)

    The Wind Ensemble is a co-curricular club that rehearses every Wednesday evening. It is open to all Senior School Music students who are interested in exploring Wind Ensemble Repertoire and Chamber Music that is by nature, quite different from what is played in concert band. For the most part, Wind Ensemble Music requires only one player per part. As such, the level of personal responsibility is high. Activities include performances both in and outside the school, community events, and prominent festivals. Students in the Wind Ensemble work with guest conductors and sectional coaches regularly. Participation in the ensemble is by audition only.. Auditions are held yearly in September and the materials will be linked on this page. To participate, students must be co-enrolled in the curricular Band course at their current grade level.

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