Over the last ten years, budget cuts across the United States have slashed music programs from standard curriculum and electives. When Whitefish students, grade 6-12, alternated taking the stage and playing instruments in last week’s Winter Band Concert, it was due to the support of many, including parents and community members in the audience.
Mark McCrady, Whitefish Director of Bands, introduced each of the bands for their performances. The group of 6th graders, most of whom picked up their instruments for the first time just four short months ago, took the stage first.
Starting out with beginner selections including Hot Cross Buns and Good King Wenceslas, they graduated to a fantastic finale with Jingle Bells.
Mr. McCrady assured parents they would see marked improvement by the 6th graders next concert in May.
The seventh and then eighth grade bands came next. The seventh grade students played selections including the holiday tune, “Flutist We Have Heard on High” and then finished with a cool rendition of “The Incredibles” theme song.
Eighth graders played a dark tune with “Through Darkened Sleepy Hallow” then livened it up with a crowd pleasing “Three Minute Nutcracker.”
Finally, the varsity band took the stage. Members included Thomas Henson (drums) and Sarah Bonnington (saxaphone) who recently performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the Macy’s Great American Marching Band.
The varsity band performed “Cloudsplitter”, “Overture for Winds”, “West Highland Sojourn”, and “St. Louis Blues.” They ended the evening with an audience sing-a-long to holiday favorites including “Frosty The Snowman” and “Silver Bells.”
The music program at Whitefish High School continues to grow, even as enrollment decreases.”Five years ago, with enrollment levels at 667 students, 126 or 20% of them were in music. Today, with 436 students at WHS, 156 or 31% participate in music. This is a tribute to the quality of instruction offered.”
It is clear that Mark McCrady has a special talent to teach kids music. He states, “I believe I get to work with the best kids in the schools.”
To support or learn more about the Whitefish Bands, visit their fantastic website.