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Festival Fanfare: Band students inspired by ‘booster’ session

Battlefords Kiwanis Music Festival April 15 to 28.
Dawn McLean Belyk facilitated a band workshop for NBCHS students.

THE BATTLEFORDS — The North Battleford Comprehensive High School (NBCHS) has a thriving band program led by teacher Jackie Kroczynski. Kroczynski, originally from Saskatoon, is a multi-talented artist known for her lifelong passion for music and storytelling. She has showcased her musical talents as both a performer and conductor in concert and jazz bands across Western Canada and Europe. She has a fondness for the New Orleans flavour of jazz and blues.

As part of the booster program opportunity being offered by the Kiwanis Battlefords Music Festival Committee, Kroczynski hosted clinician Dawn McLean Belyk to spend three hours working with school bands. Kroczynski reported, “The kids were left feeling energized and inspired.”

Students worked on skills such as air support, posture and tuning in conjunction with perfecting specific musical selections. Students spent time focusing on how to follow a conductor effectively. “It was a very positive experience for me. It's always great to be able to observe another teacher,” Kroczynskisaud, “It's really great to have another perspective in the room.”

Dawn McLean Belyk is a sessional lecturer for music at the University of Saskatchewan, specializing in low brass instruction. She graduated from the University of Saskatchewan in 1981 with a degree in music education. In 1987, McLean Belyk attended Northwestern University where she completed her master's degree in music specializing in bass trombone performance. She recently completed a 30-year career at St. Joseph High School as director of bands and is also bass trombonist with the Saskatoon Symphony, Saskatoon Jazz Orchestra, and the Saskatchewan Brass Quintet. In addition to now being an instructor at USask, in 2012 she started an all-city auditioned concert band, the Saskatoon Youth Wind Orchestra. 

McLean Belyk has adjudicated bands in Alberta and Saskatchewan. She has been honoured with several prestigious awards. She received the Dwaine Nelson Award for Teaching Excellence at USask, the Saskatoon Preschool Foundation Champion of Children Award in 2009 and, in 2013, she received the Saskatchewan Band Association Distinguished Band Director Award. In 2014, she guest conducted the Saskatoon Symphony Core Players, the University of Saskatchewan Wind Orchestra and the Saskatoon Brass Band. She also performed on Dean McNeill’s Prairie Fire CD, Neil Currie’s Urban Diversions CD and as a soloist with the Saskatoon Concert Band performing a commissioned work “Concertino by Howard Cable for Bass Trombone and Concert Band.”

With all entries submitted for the 2024 Kiwanis Battlefords Music Festival, the formal program is being organized with firm dates being set for each musical discipline. Band and instrumental classes are scheduled Monday, April 15 through Friday. April 19. Strings are scheduled for Wednesday, April 17. Vocal classes, which include singing, speech arts and musical theatre, are scheduled from Monday, April 22 through Wednesday, April 24. Piano classes are scheduled Wednesday, April 24 through Saturday, April 27.

For local folks wanting to show support for the festival, there are a variety of options. Businesses or individuals may wish to sponsor a session or award. Volunteer opportunities come in all sizes. For folks with more complicated schedules, volunteering might be in the form of making phone calls or running errands. For folks with less complicated schedules, volunteering might involve being a door greeter outside of sessions during the festival or being a secretary for the adjudicator. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and see where your time, skills, or resources might be of most help. Correspondence can be directed by email to the Committee secretary Amy Francais or P.O. Box 1301, North Battleford, SK, S9A 3L8.

I grew up in the Great Depression, and the jazz artists and Dixieland musicians were at the core of our communications and enjoyment. They were not passing fancies. They are something that is, and will be, listened to again and again. I have a space of reverence for some of those old jazz stars such as Sydney Bechet and Louis Armstrong. You can cage the singer but not the song.” — Harry Belafonte (1927 - 2023)