Message from President Kirk Wassmer

Happy New Year!

ABA President Kirk WassmerWe are excited to be re-launching Musicom with the intent that it will become your source for all band-related news and information in Alberta. With that goal in mind, we are reaching out to ABA members across the province to submit articles about band activities taking place in your area. Musicom will also feature articles on band pedagogy; if you have an idea for a topic that you would like to see addressed in a future edition of Musicom or if you would like to submit an article yourself, please contact Musicom editor James de Sousa.

The second half of the school year is typically more active for Band teachers with camps, tours and music festival performances. It is also a busy one for the ABA, with our Adult Concert Band Workshop, Northern and Southern Alberta Junior High Honour Bands and the Festival of Bands. Planning is already well underway for next fall’s Music Conference Alberta taking place in Red Deer from October 27 – 29, 2017.

Remember that the ABA is YOUR Association! We are always looking for ways to improve the services that we provide to our membership, and new ideas and initiatives are always welcome. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, comments or concerns about the ABA.

On behalf of the Board of the Alberta Band Association, I would like to wish you all the very best in your personal and professional endeavors during 2017!

Kirk Wassmer
President | Alberta Band Association

Canada's 150th Birthday!

It is Canada's 150th Birthday and a great way to celebrate is by programming some Canadian content in upcoming concerts and performances. The CMC has a variety of Concert and Wind Ensemble pieces for ensembles to explore. Music can be borrowed, rented, and purchased, depending on availability.

More information is available at the Canadian Music Centre website where you can view their catalogue online.

Tom Spila to Conduct the Southern Alberta Junior Honour Band

Thomas SpilaThomas Spila is a graduate of the University of Alberta and has a Bachelor of Education degree with a major in secondary music.

He has taught music at the Elementary, Jr., & Sr. High School levels for a total of 42 years. The past 38 of those have been spent at the Camrose Composite High School where the music program consists of concert and jazz bands, mixed chorus, chamber choir and vocal jazz, as well as beginner and advanced guitar. Student groups under his direction have been recognized at regional, provincial, and national levels.

He has been the director of the Camrose & District Community Band since its inception in 1984, is a past recipient of the Tommy Banks Award from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and was presented with the first Vondis Miller Legacy Award in 2004. He has been recognized for his work by the University of Alberta: Augustana Faculty (Fine Arts Achievement Award); the Alberta Band Association (Elkhorn Award for Director of the Year); the Alberta Choral Federation (Con Spirito Award); the Camrose Rotary Club (Paul Harris Fellow Award); Alberta Government (Centennial Award), and the office of the Governor General of Canada (Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal).

Mr. Spila has been active as an adjudicator, has been a guest conductor and clinician at weekend and summer workshops, and has served on the board of the Alberta Band Association. He is also an arranger, an amateur tubist and guitarist, and an avid fisherman.
More on the Southern Alberta Junior Honour Band →

Sarah Drew to Conduct the Alberta Northern Junior Honour Band

Sara DrewSarah Drew (B. Mus, Ed Cert, Diploma Wind Band Conducting) feels fortunate to be able to do what she loves each day. Having a lifelong passion for both music and young people, she teaches middle school general music, bands, choirs, and guitar, hoping to impact her students' lives with the love and power of music. Sarah has taught K-9 music at a variety of schools in the Calgary area and currently she is proud to be the music teacher at Captain Nichola Goddard (Middle) School in northwest Calgary. Her performing groups have consistently achieved high standards of excellence, but she is most proud of who her students have become; caring, creative and confident citizens.

To the shock of many, one of her favorite parts of being a music teacher is starting young instrumentalists in beginning band. In fact, she has co-written a beginning band method called Kodály for Band which is in use in many schools across North America.

Ms. Drew has directed bands at Calgary’s Summer Band Workshop, MusiCamrose as well as guest conducted and adjudicated across the province of Alberta. She has been involved in coaching the University of Calgary music education lab band students and has recently become a part of the ATA Mentorship program to walk alongside new music teachers. Sarah has had roles on the boards of ABA and as a member of the Arts and Culture board in her hometown of Cochrane, Alberta.

Her love of music also extends to adults, as she was the Founder and Artistic Director of the Sher-Wood-Like-To-Play Adult Community Band in Calgary for 17 years, as well as the director of the Cochrane Children’s Choir.

Living in Cochrane with her family gives Sarah quick access to the river pathways and the mountains where she loves to run, hike, x-country ski and cycle.
More on the Northern Alberta Junior Honour Band →

University of Lethbridge High School Honour Band
February 23 – 24, 2017

The University of Lethbridge is proud to present the inaugural of the U of L High School Honour Band, held on Thursday, February 23rd and Friday, February 24th, 2017 at the University of Lethbridge, in conjunction with the South Western Alberta Teachers’ Convention.

The Honour Band is designed to provide an enrichment experience for accomplished young musicians in our province. Students recommended for this program should be motivated and looking to achieve a new level of musical excellence. The U of L Honour Band includes students from the southwestern Alberta. Our guest conductor this year is Dr. Gillian MacKay from the University of Toronto.

A Letter of Gratitude from Fort McMurray Band Directors

Dear Membership:

It has been several months since the Fort McMurray wildfire, and our citizens continue to slowly recover from the aftermath that the “Beast” left behind. We have shown some progress, as homes that were lost are starting to be rebuilt. There is much work to do, but our citizens are resilient and continue to work together to help build a stronger and better Fort McMurray.

Our music community continues to show signs of recovery, including an increase of membership in both our community Jazz and Concert Bands. Our schools welcomed back the community with various concerts during the Christmas season and our Community Band brought the joy of swing to our local Rotary House for our senior citizens.

On behalf of the Fort McMurray Band Directors, musicians, students and citizens, we would like to take this moment to thank you and all of Alberta for your generosity and support during the Wildfire and recovery.


James de Sousa
Musicom Editor
Fort Community Concert Band Director
Holy Trinity High School Band Teacher

Zone Representatives Wanted!

In the interest of making more and deeper connections around the province, we are bringing back the ABA Zone Representatives.These positions are a way to let the whole province know what is going on in your neighbourhood. We have had several volunteers for different areas, but are looking for lots more! We want to connect all Alberta Band Association people and share the great things that happen all around the province.

If you would like more details or are interested in joining the team, please contact Tricia Howe at or James de Sousa at

Calgary Performing Arts Festival Practice-A-Thon

Calgary Performing Arts FestivalIf you have students or ensembles entered in the Calgary Performing Arts Festival (formerly Kiwanis Festival), please consider getting them involved in the Practice-a-thon. Students will register online through Canada Helps with a commitment to practice a certain amount of time from March 1 – 21, 2017. For every $25 they raise, they will be entered into a draw for prizes.

Questions? Contact Emily Willmon at

ABA Provincial Festival of Bands
May 8 – 18, 2017 | Red Deer, AB

The ABA Provincial Festival of Bands offers an opportunity for both band director and student to gain a valuable educational experience. The unique format offers an ideal setting for participants to receive constructive feedback and hear other groups perform. Registration is still open.

Upcoming Professional Development
at Teachers' Conferences

CCTCA | February 16 & 17, 2017

Profound Music Learning in the 21st Century

Thursday February 16, 2017
9 AM – 3:15 PM
St. Mary’s High School Learning Commons
111 18 Ave. SW  Calgary, AB
Band Directors United – The Sequel

Friday February 17, 2017
9 AM
St. Mary’s High School Theatre
111 18 Ave. SW  Calgary, AB
With Tom Spila and the Southern Alberta Junior Honour Band

Friday February 17, 2017
10:30 AM – 12 PM
Westmount Charter School Band Room
2215 Uxbridge Drive NW  Calgary, AB

Palliser District Teachers' Convention | February 23 & 24, 2017

Making the Most out of First-Year Bands

Thursday February 23, 2017
1:15 PM
Hyatt Regency Calgary | Imperial 5
700 Centre Street SE  Calgary, AB
Teaching Band

Friday February 24, 2017
8:30 AM
Hyatt Regency Calgary | Imperial 9
700 Centre Street SE  Calgary, AB
Using Repertoire to Create A Successful Festival Experience
(Even with Limited Instrumentation)

Friday February 24, 2017
10 AM
Hyatt Regency Calgary | Imperial 2
700 Centre Street SE  Calgary, AB
Making Small Ensembles Work by Design

Friday February 24, 2017
11:30 AM
Hyatt Regency Calgary | Imperial 2
700 Centre Street SE  Calgary, AB

GETCA | March 2 & 3, 2017

With Sarah Drew and the Alberta Northern Junior Honour Band

Thursday, March 2, 2017
2:30–3:45 PM
Cosmopolitan Music Society 
8426 Gateway Blvd NW 
Edmonton, AB
Music The Universal: Integrating Technology into Music Education

Thursday March 2, 2017
2:30–3:45 PM
Harry Ainlay High School | Lab Room 131
4350 111 St. NW  Edmonton, AB  
The Séan McCann Story; Help Yourself or Music Is Medicine

Thursday March 2, 2017
2:30–3:45 PM
Shaw Conference Centre
9797 Jasper Ave.  Edmonton, AB

Mighty Peace Teachers' Convention | March 9 & 10, 2017

Tune In: A Music Therapy Approach to Life

Friday March 10, 2017
9 AM
Lean on Me: Develop an Intergenerational Music Program for Seniors and Students
Friday March 10, 2017
2 PM
PWA 117 / Library

Alberta Band Association Fundraiser: Band Together

Music is a lifelong journey that involves hard work and dedication that culminates in an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and never-ending happiness. The Alberta Band Association is committed to providing resources that our schools and communities need to practice their craft and share it with us. Your donation to the ABA will support school & community band programs across Alberta. We encourage members to share this information with others as every little bit helps.

Please visit the Band Together website for more information or to donate.

Nominations for ABA Awards

Do you know someone whom you would like to nominate for one of the ABA band awards? Or would you like to know more about the awards? Please visit the ABA website for details and nomination forms.

Have Anything to Share?

If you would like to share some thoughts, ideas, or would like to write something for Musicom,
please contact James de Sousa:

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