A trio of G.W. Graham students have been recognized for their fantastic music skills and are some of just a handful of B.C. high school students accepted into three special bands.
Kaylee Lengert, Brennan Lane and Jackson Howard have been accepted into the B.C. Music Educators Association (BCMEA) provincial honours wind ensemble, instrumental jazz band, and the TD High School Jazz Intensive (not with BCMEA), respectively.
“For us it’s a first. The kids are starting to realize what’s out there for them,” says GWG music teacher Shane Monkman of having three students in one year get accepted.
The BCMEA honours bands are comprised of about 15-20 B.C. high school students for the instrumental jazz band, and 40-50 for the wind ensemble. The TD High School Jazz Intensive is also made up of about 15-20 students.
“They’re starting to feel more confident and now they’re wanting to get out there,” says fellow music teacher Janine Webster. “We’ll tell them about it, but they have to do the work.”
For all three bands, Kaylee, Brennan and Jackson had to audition by sending in audio clips of themselves performing. They found out just before school ended that they had been accepted.
“I thought it was fake,” says Kaylee when Monkman told her she got in. When she realized it was true, she says she was happy. “I’m still in a little bit of shock.”
She just finished Grade 10 and plays an unpopular instrument called the euphonium.
“It looks like a little tuba. The baritone is smaller than the euphonium — it goes baritone, euphonium, tuba. It’s a very unknown, unloved instrument,” she says with a laugh.
The word ‘euphonium’ comes from the Ancient Greek word ‘euphonos’ meaning “well-sounding” or “sweet-voiced.”
“Kaylee is a workhorse. She is here every day [after school],” says Webster, adding Kaylee often stays later that than the teachers.
“Music is her outlet. She’s very quiet and very shy, but then you hear her play and it’s very outgoing. The euphonium is her voice,” says Monkman. “She just goes for it. When she has her instrument in her hand, she’s confident.”
They describe her as sweet, caring, empathetic, thoughtful, and very helpful.
This is Brennan’s third time being accepted into the BCMEA honours jazz band as a trombone player. He’ll be starting Grade 12 in September.
“Having Brennan in the last two years doing it has opened the eyes to other kids that this is a possibility,” says Monkman.
“It’s always fun,” says Brennan. “[The other kids] are really nice. They’re great musicians, and I’ve stayed in touch with a couple of them.”
“He’s passionate. He loves jazz, he loves to play,” says Monkman.
Brennan broke his elbow this school year in P.E., which was followed by complications from the surgery. He continued to play, but there were times when he couldn’t.
“His muscles were in pain. He went through hell and back this year,” says Webster.
“He played the final [school] concert on timpani and you could tell he was in pain,” says Monkman.
But Brennan was firm in his response in saying that he wanted to continue playing when his teachers asked him if he was able to go on.
“He would work through anything because he loves music,” says Webster.
His passion for music is very apparent.
“When I hear him solo, it’s a maturity beyond his years,” says Monkman. “He doesn’t play like a Grade 11. He’s got professional ideas and professional tone because he listens, he absorbs it.”
“I think the rest of the day he puts on a mask, and when he plays he opens up himself,” says Webster. “He shows his heart and his soul.”
Both the BCMEA honours concerts that Kaylee and Brennan will be performing in will take place in October in the Vancouver area. The concerts fall on the same weekend as the annual BCMEA conference and will also include performances by three other BCMEA high school honours bands: vocal jazz, concert choir, and string orchestra.
Jackson is also a trombone player. His acceptance into the TD High School Jazz Intensive has also earned him a scholarship. Jackson just finished Grade 10 at GWG.
“Jackson is another one of those very hard workers,” says Monkman.
He comes from a piano background, and is very passionate about music. He performs with different groups in Vancouver, including a youth orchestra, plus he takes private trombone lessons with the Greater Vancouver Youth Music Academy.
“Jackson is a very intelligent academic type of kid. His technique is really good,” adds Webster.
The TD High School Jazz Intensive concert was a free public event. It took place on July 2 at David Lam Park in Vancouver.
Getting accepted into these bands is “huge,” say Webster and Monkman. It gives the teens a chance to perform with other students that are of a very high calibre, experience different types of music with different conductors, gives them a new perspective, helps them network, and gets them out of their comfort zone. Plus, it’s great for post secondary applications and scholarships.
“We’re proud of them, so proud of them. Proud that they’re willing to put themselves out there,” says Webster.