Band Program Overview
The Band Program at Central Memorial High School has a rich and varied history. For the past 40 years our bands have been recognized for excellence and have received many regional, national, and international awards at music festivals. Students will study and perform the finest repertoire in band literature featuring many historical and contemporary styles. Performance ensembles, such as the concert band, jazz band, and percussion ensemble, will perform locally, regionally, and when possible, internationally throughout the school year. All instrumental music students are considered to be part of Central’s PVA Program.
Students interested in jazz are placed into ensembles where the traditions of jazz and big band are studied and performed.
Our musicianship course is an advanced elective for instrumental students who are interested in furthering their musical skills. This course focuses on performance skills, technical studies (scales, etudes, rhythm, etc), history, theory, ear training, repertoire studies, and areas of special interest. Musicianship students may consider the Advanced Placement Music Theory Exam during their grade 12 year.
Mike Gardner became the director of music in 2000 and has provided students with a broad variety of music training. In addition to developing fundamental skills in music, students study and perform the finest repertoire in band literature. Students interested in jazz are placed into ensembles where the traditions of jazz and big band are studied and performed.
The Symphonic Band is one of the highest quality performance organizations at Central. The Concert band performs a rich and varied repertoire. This ensemble has represented Central Memorial with performances at Provincial, National, and International festivals. All performance students are placed in this ensemble.
Jazz Ensemble is an exceptional ensemble with traditional “Big Band” instrumentation, performing the finest jazz repertory. Many of western Canada’s finest jazz musicians are graduates of this program. This ensemble performs at a variety of functions during the school year. Enrollment is open to all students by audition during the first week of the fall term.
Instrumental students may have the opportunity to perform in the orchestra of the PVA Musical.
Instrumental students are strongly encouraged to enhance their musical development through private instruction.
Leadership in the Arts 35 / Entrepreneurial Artist (Junior Achievement)
All PVA students are enrolled in one of two courses; Leadership in the Arts 35 or Entrepreneurial Artist (Junior Achievement). These programs of study allow PVA students to explore how they see themselves as artists and become more aware of the process involved in preparing for the marketing and business aspect of being a professional in the arts community.
Students will experience a variety of teacher-led assignments/activities as well as a number of student-directed online projects.
Audition/Interview Requirements for Band
To audition for PVA Band, students must have previously submitted all components of the PVA Application Form.
Please bring your instrument to your audition. Be prepared to play two different scales (however you normally practice them) and a short piece (maximum of 3 minutes). There will be a short sight reading example for you to look at, talk about, and play through.
Following your audition, there will be time to discuss your musical background, reasons for applying to the PVA program, and commitment to the discipline. Details about our program will also be discussed, including our musicianship course which teaches theory, harmony, ear training, music history, and technique with the goal of providing students with a smooth transition into university level music courses. In order to determine if we are a good fit for you, the interview process will also give you an opportunity to ask questions and learn about our program!
A parent or caregiver should be present at your interview.
PVA auditions are friendly and supportive. This may be your first audition ever, and we want everyone to have a positive and fun experience.
Band and Strings Instructor
Katrina Archer has been involved with music in Calgary from a young age. She studied saxophone and cello at the University of Calgary, earning a Bachelor of Music Education specializing in Secondary Education in 2009. She holds a Bachelor of Education from St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick. As a musician, Ms. Archer has performed as a sectional cellist with the Symphony of the Kootenays, as well as performing with several local bands and ensembles in Calgary. Ms. Archer has become involved in the international El Sistema movement, which exposes at-risk youth to intense musical study on an instrument as a means to create positive social change within a community. To that end, she has been a part of instructing Philadelphia’s “Play On Philly” program, as well as Calgary’s Multicultural Youth Orchestra. She believes firmly in the power of musical study to positively transform individuals, communities, and society. At Central Memorial, Ms. Archer directs the String Orchestra program, co-conducts the Symphonic Band, and teaches advanced instrumental and choral musicianship classes.
Band and Choral Instructor – Fine Arts Learning Leader
Mike Gardner is the Director of Music at Central Memorial High. He holds a Bachelor of Music Performance degree from the University of North Texas and a Master of Music Education from the University of Missouri. Mr. Gardner has taught music in the public school system for 26 years. At Central Memorial, Mr. Gardner teaches and conducts the Symphonic Band, directs the Jazz Ensemble and teaches advanced vocal and instrumental musicianship classes. He also taught theory, ear training, and applied saxophone at Mount Royal College and is a director of the Westwinds Music Society. Mr. Gardner is active as a clinician and guest conductor in the province of Alberta.
In addition to Mr. Gardner’s teaching and conducting qualifications, he also performs as a saxophonist and arranges music for bands and choirs. He has performed with a variety of jazz musicians and groups such as the Eric Friedenberg Orchestra, the Prime Time Big Band, the Harry James Tribute Orchestra, The Tommy Dorsey Memorial Orchestra, and The Guy Lombardo Memorial Orchestra. He has also been a sideman for Lou Rawls, Johnny Mathis, Rosemary Clooney, Rob McConnell, Tommy Banks, and others.
Pianist and tenor Gregory Massey is a versatile musician who is trained in musical genres spanning from classical, to jazz, to rock. Gregory’s formal education includes completing a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus, studies in jazz piano at Grant MacEwan College, and a year of graduate work at the University of Alberta’s main campus. Gregory also received his Grade 10 certificate in piano from the Royal Conservatory of Music.
Gregory is a skilled accompanist who works with singers and instrumentalists of all ages and abilities. The ability to perform in a variety of styles has opened many doors for Gregory, including being the lead pianist and keytar player in several Alberta based rock bands and being the Assistant Music Director at Living Spirit United Church. Gregory is currently living in Calgary, Alberta where he is an active teacher, director and accompanist.
Music Leader, Mike Gardner, on the music program:
Music Program Introduction
Q: Are PVA music students required to take private lessons?
It is strongly recommended that PVA music students study privately with a professional instructor. This experience will facilitate strong foundational skills necessary in developing independence and confidence.
Q: What time commitment is required to be a PVA music student?
Music students typically attend 1 – 3 morning or after school rehearsals per week. In addition, Jazz Ensembles and Vocal Jazz meet either before or after school two or three times per week and those programs are by audition only. Music students perform at several concerts and events and tour each year. Tours take place in the province, within Canada, or internationally.
Q: When do PVA music students take Professional Development in the Arts 35?
All PVA Band students who choose to enroll in Musicianship will be expected to participate in Professional Development in the Arts 35. This self-directed course is a combination of teacher-directed assignments and activities combined with student-directed or on-line projects. Students will interview professional musicians, attend workshops and performances, develop a list of performance repertoire, study privately, develop a personal portfolio, and complete a final exit interview. This course is not scheduled into the timetable, but updates and teacher content will occur during musicianship classes and at designated appointment times.
Q: Are all instrumental students considered PVA students?
Links for music students
PVA Music Alumni
Many graduates of the PVA music programs have gone on to post-secondary music programs or are currently pursuing professional careers. Alumni include:
- Joel Untinen
Berklee School of Music – Boston
- Kimberley Auch
Brandon University – Brandon, Manitoba
- Bryant Wahl-Perrin
Capilano College – Vancouver
- Lauren Tivadar
- Joel Viehweger
- Hawley Miller
Grant McEwan University – Edmonton
- Scott Snider
- Yana Loo
- Madi Allen
Juilliard School of Music
- Hanna Kwon
McGill University – Montreal
- Greame Tofflemire
Mount Royal University
- Jessica Jo
- Chris Gardner
- Andrew Smith
- Alex Baum
- Jeff Gammon
- Emile Leger
- Andrew Smith
Nimbus Recording Arts
- Phenix Warren
Oklahoma City University
- Victoria Erhardt (Musical Theatre)
- Adrian Emond
- Janelle Miller
University of British Columbia
- Esther Kim
University of Calgary
- Katie Gavelin
- Jocelyn Rama
- Nicole Drescher
- Cathy Billington
University of Lethbridge
- Megan Commet
- Nikita George
- Eva Tonchova
- Lauren Vomberg
University of New Brunswick
- Shannon Taylor
University of Ottawa
- Fiona Ferguson
University of North Texas
- Mitchell Jantzie
University of Toronto
- Andrea Poon
- Eve Garber
University of Victoria
- Ethan Hill
- Akesh Aheer
- Gillian Newburn
- Stuart Kinnear
- Parker Jollife
Vancouver Island Community College
- Ian Bertram
Viola University, Los Angeles
- Joel Balzun (Composition)
- Majo Gnitter
The music program at central was more than a class, it was a second home...
The staff were so welcoming and warm that students are able to have a close and long lasting relationship with them. Students spend a lot more time together than in other classes (especially on tour) and because music is very team orientated, strong friendships are quickly established. It is one of the only subjects where you spend three years growing up with the same teachers and students. After a full day of analysing texts and memorizing data sheets, it was a relief that I could go to the music room and do something I was very passionate about. More importantly however, do all of this with people that made me feel content and completely at home with.”
“I really could write a novel on my experience with the Central band program but this will have to do…
Being a student in the CMHS music program is a rewarding and transformative experience. The program not only taught me what it is to be a good musician, but what it is to be a good person and a good friend. It taught me how to be responsible, how to demonstrate a positive attitude, and most importantly, how to laugh.
I feel very privileged to have been a student of the patient staff, a friend of the many talented kids, and an affiliate of the music program at Central. I am not the same person that walked into Room 101 on the first day of band class. And thank God for that.”