I was a member of the Woodroffe High School (Ottawa, Canada) Band for 3 years way back. I played the flute which happens to figure prominently in the recent concert above. The reason I played flute goes back further. In Grade 6 my mom decided to enroll me in music lessons. I was given an aptitude test and found out I had good aptitude. The results are shown below complete with Mom’s scribbles. It was recommended that I take up the violin. For some reason I abhorred the violin and instead chose the 2nd recommendation, the flute.
The flute is a relatively easy to play wind instrument (you need to develop your ombouchure) and relatively inexpensive. The one above is what I think I had – it currently retails for $129CDN. So I began music lessons on the flute after school. However in those days, that was a lot of money!
This is the 52 bus route I took every Wednesday after school. I had to go to Elmdale School for the lessons as they were not offered at D. Roy Kennedy or Woodroffe public schools. It was fun taking the bus and walking a few blocks – rain or shine. It was my first experience at solo travel.
A Mr. Guibault was my flute teacher. He frowned a lot when I played meaning I had not likely done my lessons nor practiced sufficiently in his eyes. I was not a natural for sure. I remember practicing at home. Gradually I made progress, learned to read music and my embouchure, the way in which you apply your mouth to the mouthpiece, strengthened. I remember being in a concert once as a Scout. We all had no idea how to play our instruments but our parents clapped anyways. This reminds me that Miles Davis once told a bandmate “to play that instrument like you don’t know how to play it.” It all paid off though when I got to high school.
In Grade 9 I took Music and continued to practice and learn how to play the flute. The next year I made the Junior Band pictured above. We were a concert band that played in the auditorium occasionally but mostly practiced in preparation for individually moving up to the Senior Band. We did enter band competitions and placed well. In the spring of 1966, the Senior Band lost a large number of it’s senior members due to graduation. So I was moved up to the Senior Band, flute in hand by the end of Grade 10 in the spring of 1966.
Mr. Peter Manley was our very talented conductor. He had built this band up in only a few years to be among the best in Ottawa. It had tied in the A class competition with Ottawa Tech and got invited to play at the World’s Fair in NYC in 1965 before I joined. It was indeed an honour to become a member. It was an extra-curricular activity and we practiced at 8AM sharp every Thursday morning. I remember waking up at 7:40, throwing my clothes on and literally running the 4 blocks to school. You did not want to be late – Mr. Manley was a great ribber. In front of the whole band he would say something like – “Ah Mr. Morgan, late again. Perhaps we should all change our time to suit your schedule, eh?” as I slunk into my place.
We played a lot of marches, some orchestral overtures adapted for concert band and selections from musicals such as Gigi. Our set piece was Colonel Bogey on Parade which figured prominently in the Bridge Over the River Quai movie if you remember it.
I have 2 records they made in the mid 1960’s just before I joined, but no record player on which to play them lol. Here are the numbers recorded as listed on the 1964 recording:
- On the Quarter Deck (Alford)
- Mannin Veen (Haydn-Wood)
- Chorale and Alleluia (Hanson)
- Academic Festival Overture (Brahms)
And on the 1965 recording:
- “Finale” New World Symphony (Dvorak)
- 2nd American Folk Rhapsody (Grundman)
- Colonel Bogey on Parade (Alford)
- Selection “Mr. Lucky” (Mancini)
Wow, pretty cool! An awesome band experience was in store.