Jackson band shows great improvement

It’s really neat to see the difference between September and December, so nice to see a group of kids get together and produce something…

Practice makes perfect:  Music teacher Brian Pratt-Johnson directs the Jackson Concert Band in preparation for their Winter Concert on Dec. 8.

Practice makes perfect: Music teacher Brian Pratt-Johnson directs the Jackson Concert Band in preparation for their Winter Concert on Dec. 8.

From a cacophonous jumble of notes in September to recognizable and enjoyable music in December, Salmon Arm Secondary Jackson Campus students have come a long way.

Longtime and popular music teacher, Brian Pratt-Johnson laughingly describes his Jackson charges at the beginning of the year as 60 students, all with noisemakers.

“It’s really neat to see the difference between September and December, so nice to see a group of kids get together and produce something beautiful,” he says proudly.

This is the first big concert of the year for the Jackson music program and will include performances by three groups – the Jackson Jazz Band, the Jackson Concert Band and the Jackson Jazz Combo.

The 38-member jazz band and the concert band will perform under Pratt-Johnson’s direction while the eight-student combo is taught by Nicole Auger.

This is the second year Auger is teaching in the district, sharing her talents with students at both the Jackson and Sullivan campuses, as well as Carlin Elementary Middle School and North Shuswap Elementary.

The concert band recently performed at the Jackson school’s Remembrance Day ceremony, but the Dec. 8 concert will be the students’ first public performance.

“Each group is playing four songs; a nice steady shot of each group so you can see how they have developed,” Pratt-Johnson said, noting he chooses the numbers students perform that are appropriate for their skill levels and develop new concepts.

“The students are learning how to improvise and you have to be careful how to do it, what scales to use and how to develop a new melody. It’s hard to do and we want them to feel good and have success.”

The Concert Band will perform Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Mission to Mars, the theme from Game of  Thrones and Let it Snow.

The Jazz Band will offer Love Potion Number Nine, Beauty and the Beast, a jazz standard called Freddy Freeloader and Frosty the Snowman.

Pratt-Johnson says the jazz combo will also be playing Freddie Freeloader because it’s a good number for learning how to improvise.

Just as in the world of books, where there are literary classics, there is a classic jazz repertoire.

“We want to expose students to the classics to give them a sense of the tradition,” Pratt-Johnson says.

The Jackson Winter Concert takes place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 8 in the Jackson campus gym.

 

Admission to the concert is by donation.