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Virden school bands grow with strong program ahead for 2024

Virden Junior High and Collegiate bands have enjoyed strong leadership in the past and now Tyra Zander continues that tradition, introducing some new things as well.
Tyra Zander introduces performers on the Aud stage at the VCI year-end band concert in May, 2023.

Virden Collegiate Institute and Virden Junior High band programs are going strong under the tutelage of Tyra Zander. The program has grown in student numbers and includes more festival work. And new instruments are on the way. A recent donation announced from Westman Communications Group will aid in the Virden Band Program Revitalization Project.

Ms. Zander says, “I am very grateful that the Virden Band Revitalization program grant was accepted by the Westman Communications Funding Program.”

The Virden Band Program relies solely on grants, donations, and outside funding to purchase instruments while band trips are primarily funded through student fundraising.

The Virden Band Revitalization Program consists of two parts: instruments for the Virden Junior High music program (grade 5-6 students) and instruments shared between Grade 7-8 Band students and VCI Band students, along with new music equipment for the Virden Collegiate Music Room.

Zander says, “We plan on using the new Orff instruments, purchased with the Westman Communications Funding, for the upcoming local Virden Festival where all the classes (Gr. 5 and Gr. 6) and bands (Gr. 7, Gr. 8, and VCI Band) will perform.” (Orff instruments are named after German composer Carl Orff and include bells, glockenspiels, xylophones, timpani and the like.)

The number of students in the VJH and VCI band programs has doubled this school year, 2023-2024.

“I am so proud of the student's work to attend such festival events and share their talents with you, the community, and the surrounding areas.”

In November the VCI band performed at the school Remembrance Assembly and the local Remembrance Day Service at the Aud theatre. The Grade 8 Band performed for the VJH school Remembrance Assembly.

“The students love the opportunity to get out in the community and perform.”

The next VCI performance is Jan. 12 at the VCI Showcase Event at 5:00-6:30 p.m. This event showcases not only the band but also the other classes that VCI has to offer on display for people to come and see. At this event, the band students Gr. 7-12 will hold a Basket Raffle Fundraiser.

Ms. Zander says, “I love doing this event with my students because it gives them a new environment to play in, and it gives them the experience that music does not need to be in an auditorium packed and formal; it can be enjoyed in a formal but casual way.” She hopes for an audience and says, “You do not need to stay for the entire event even though we would love you to; it gives the students interaction time with each other where the bands perform for each other and share some insights about the band in the high school.”

After this event, it’s full force into the festival season.

“Our first festival is in Winnipeg on Feb. 22. The VCI Band and the Gr. 8 Band face the judges performing lyrical and fast fun songs, showing their wide range of playing abilities. You will see us here in Virden for the local festival on March 5-6 on the Aud stage for everyone (Grade 5 students, Grade 7 Band, Grade 8 Band, and VCI Band).

“Later that month, on March 14, the VCI Band will take on the jazz genre at the Brandon University Jazz Festival; this will be their second year at this festival. We are not done yet!”

Gr. 6 students will be performing at Virden Music and Art Festival on April 15-16 for the vocal/choral portion. The Gr. 7 beginner band will head to Brandon University in April for the Level 1 Band Festival.

Zander as a teacher is also looking forward to festival season as she and her students work towards performances. She says, “The adjudicator's feedback will encourage students to work on exercises that will help elevate their next performances. I hope all my students have a great experience performing, learning, and growing their musical skills in 2024.” 

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