Graduating from high school band

How university students can stay involved in music

For many high school students, playing an instrument ends once they graduate.

Kenley Kristofferson, a music teacher at Lord Selkirk Regional Comprehensive Secondary School, says high school band classes tend to shrink slightly as students get to Grade 12.

“Sometimes students think that they’re graduating and leaving music forever,” he says.

Composer Kenley Kristofferson is a music teacher at Lord Selkirk Regional Comprehensive Secondary School. // Supplied photo

Kristofferson says students can join concert bands at both the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg (U of W), as well as an array of community bands across the city.

“That’s a wonderful opportunity that I think not a lot of people know about,” he says.

Kristofferson says keeping up with music is rewarding and valuable for high school graduates.

“By the time you graduate high school, you can play. In community bands, the repertoire is more challenging, more engaging and more musically satisfying,” he says.

“A band is the biggest team you’ll ever play on,” Kristofferson says.

He says everything from rehearsal and band trips to class outings are a part of building the team and building the community.

“How often are you going to work together on one common goal with 50 other people at the same time?” he says.

At the U of W, students can become a part of a new community of musicians. The Manitoba Conservatory of Music and Art (MCMA), located in Bryce Hall, offers group classes and individual lessons to students and members of the community.

Norine Harty, the executive director of the MCMA, says sometimes students do give up band when they come to university, especially in their first year.

“When they get to their second and third year, they realize that music can be a very positive outlet,” she says. “If you come and practise at lunch hour, it’s a great way to get rid of the stress from morning classes and get ready for the afternoon classes.”

The MCMA has faculty who can teach almost any instrument, so students who are interested in starting to learn an instrument can take classes for anything from the tuba to the harmonica.

Harty says the MCMA can help connect musicians with community bands. For people who aren’t interested in playing an instrument, the MCMA puts on concerts and performances that are open to the community.

On the other side of the coin, Kristofferson suggests it might not be the worst thing to stop playing with a band after high school.

“I wonder if it’s okay sometimes that it expires. It was a wonderful part of your life, and then you move on, and you have this cherished memory of this time that everyone spent together,” he says. “In the event that you don’t continue with music, it might be okay that you had this great experience, and it’s over.”

Published in Volume 73, Number 17 of The Uniter (February 7, 2019)

Related Reads