School may have been out for students for the summer, but for several music teachers from across BC, Alberta and Manitoba, including Jaymi Daniels of Kamloops and Ashcroft, their summer was spent at Vernon Army Cadet Summer Training Centre (VACSTC) where they ran a band program for 150 cadets aged 12 to 18.
The program consists of a Pipes and Drums band and a Military band. The cadets arrive with a wide variety of music skills and abilities, so the challenge of offering each of them the opportunity to advance their skill levels is a complex undertaking.
By coming together during the summer in such a unique way, these music teachers are able to collaborate and offer suggestions or ideas on ways to approach different learning situations, discovering a whole new toolbox filled with ideas they can take back to their individual classrooms.
Another of the keys to the program’s success is that many of the instructors, as well as the cadets, keep coming back.
According to Jaymi Daniels, Director of Pipes and Drums at VACSTC and a music teacher at Chase Secondary, “There is a strong sense of loyalty here amongst both the adult staff and the cadets. Many of them want to keep coming back year after year, often until they are not able to come back.” Daniels says that either work or family commitments are the main reasons that the instructors decide not to return. As for the cadets, many of them become what they affectionately call “Vernon Lifers”, spending five summers at VACSTC before they turn 19 and graduate from the cadet program. Some of the instructors who came to VACSTC as cadets returned as members of the teaching team.
It’s not unusual to see one or more of the instructors working with their cadets in the evenings on the commons, perfecting drum rolls or fingering techniques on the chanters.
The bands perform in public throughout the Okanagan each summer. Within the training centre, they provide the music for a number of events.
“A parade without music is just drill,” is a common refrain. During the final week, the band cadets host the cadets, officers and other staff for an evening of music and highland dancing, a requirement for the pipes and drums course.
The summer’s training for the cadets and instructors ends with the Final Parade and Sunset Ceremony when they have one last opportunity to showcase their music before hundreds of visitors who attend the parade. At VACSTC, summer officially ends when the lone piper silhouetted on the backdrop of the main parade square plays “Amazing Grace” as the sun slips below the Okanagan hills.
Capt. Debbie Middleton