by Stephen Dafoe
The Morinville Community Cultural Centre stage played home to almost a dozen Morinville Public School (MPS) band students Wednesday afternoon as the Dragons rocked fellow students and parents with the culmination of their efforts.
MPS teacher and fellow rocker Chris Layton said the band class meets for an hour every Tuesday and Thursday to put together the set list and rehearse for the show.
“For the most part, the kids help me pick the songs that we want to sing so that we’re not doing songs that do not interest them,” Layton said.
Wednesday’s set list included bands who first hit the stage long before the Grade 7 to 9 students were born. AC/DC, Bon Jovi, War, and the Ramones were all covered in the hour-long show Wednesday afternoon.
Layton said long before students learn their songs and how to perform them, they are taught how to look after the gear – both the instruments and the amps. “Equipment costs money, so we have to take care of it,” Layton said.
From there, the students move on to following the guitar and bass tabs on the smart board as well as working out the drum beats.
“Each player is sort of responsible for getting their own part down,” Layton explained. “This isn’t a band where there is a whole lot of doubling up. When you have an orchestra, you have five guys on the flute all playing the same thing. This is not the case here. We have a lead guitarist. We have a rhythm guitarist. We have two acoustic guitars, but they are playing different parts. We have two bassists, who at times play the same things, but at times play differently.”
Rounding out the band is Justin, the band’s drummer, a musician Layton is sure he’ll watch professionally on stage one day.
Layton said Wednesday’s show was incredibly important to the program and the students.
“If the kids don’t have a chance to show off what they’ve learned, then did they really learn?” Layton pondered. “I remember growing up and practicing in my bedroom – and that’s all well and good – but I would have given anything to be in a band. This is a chance to do that. The kids don’t get a chance to do that otherwise.
Wednesday’s show included a special guest appearance by Edmonton Indie band White Lightning, who had MPS students on the floor and at the edge of the stage.
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