Middle School bands prepare for Alberta International Band Festival with guest conductor, Dr. Gillian MacKay
By: Holly K '18
This week, Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School welcomed Dr. Gillian Mackay, who came in to guest conduct our bands and offer support in our musical endeavours. Dr. Gillian is the Professor of Music at the University of Toronto, and has experience conducting, adjudicating, and teaching bands and ensembles from around the world. She has conducted honour bands and judged competitions in the US, Singapore, Thailand, and Korea. On Monday morning Dr. Gillian worked with the Senior Band on their pieces for the Canadian Rocky Mountain festival in Banff. As a clarinet player in the senior band, I can honestly say that Gillian really helped us learn to listen to each other, blend together, and play with greatly improved tone.
Dr. Gillian is a professional trumpeter, so perhaps the funniest part of our class with her was when she asked the trumpets to “buzz” their line with just their mouthpieces. The trumpets played their line, and then she told them to just “buzz it”, so they did (and the band laughed at how ridiculous it sounded), and when they played the line again, miraculously it had already improved. The Grades 7, 8, and 9 bands also worked with her in preparation for the Alberta International Band festival, and have benefitted greatly under her tutelage. I was grateful for the opportunity to work with her in my IB Music class. She gave me and my peers individual feedback to prepare for our IB Music recital (taking place on March 16). We are all very grateful to Gillian Mackay for visiting us and helping us improve with our music!