This ain’t your average band class
Behind the black stage curtains, Stuart Greensides is ready to rock.
“It’s like I have the feeling of butterflies... but better,” the Grade 10 West Vancouver secondary student says.
And he’s not the only one feeling the excitement. Dressed in a plethora of vintage T-shirts, skinny jeans and fat sneakers, 60 rock band program pupils are about to kick off their annual concert.
“I have never done anything like this before,” Greensides says.
The stage lights are bright, music loud and the energy backstage is contagious.
For months the students have practised playing the songs of legends musicians, such as Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page.
This is definitely not your typical school band concert, but that may be one reason the program has expanded to three classes since its inception six years ago, music teacher Les Toth says.
“One of the things I was trying to do when I created the course was make a modern band class,” he says.
Before Toth became a teacher he toured western Canada as a professional musician. Classic rock was his genre, so it made sense to adapt his love into a program.
“The guitar really is the instrument of popular culture,” Toth says.
The students bring their own equipment to the class, but the program is not cheap to operate, Toth says, noting school equipment, such as amps, have to be maintained.
Last year, while the Vancouver School Board considered cutting funding to its music programs, West Van firmly backed its band classes. School budget surveys demonstrate music is one of the defining aspects of West Van’s schools, the school district’s superintendent Chris Kennedy wrote to The Outlook in an email.
“The [school] board has been clear of their ongoing commitment to music education and we also have a strong working relationship with the Kay Meek theatre,” he wrote.
For students such as Greensides, that’s good news. He’s stoked about rock band class, although you could always take it one step further, Greensides says.
“I would love to play Pennywise [punk music].”
To learn more about the band program visit www.sd45.bc.ca or call 604-981-1100.