Grand Canyon School brings holiday music up a notch during Winter Band concert

Sophomore Valeria Romero practices for her solo performance of Jazzberry Jam. Loretta Yerian/WGCN

Sophomore Valeria Romero practices for her solo performance of Jazzberry Jam. Loretta Yerian/WGCN

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - The 2014 Grand Canyon School Winter Band Concert performed their holiday concert for a full house last Wednesday.

The concert is part of an annual holiday event the school uses to encourage students and provide a chance for parents and family to witness their children's combined talents.

Grand Canyon School music teacher Bentley Monk said it's important for the community to attend events like the Winter Band Concert.

"It supports the kids and all the hard work they do. Music is one of those things that some kids are really gifted at and they might not be gifted in math or English or science or social studies but it allows these kids to feel confident in themselves," he said. "It's something they can all do together."

Monk said he hoped all in attendance enjoyed the music and appreciated the talent displayed in the band.

"These kids sound ridiculously awesome. They've been practicing for three months and this is their final examination," Monk said. "Which is very different because they take their final exam, live, in front of an audience. It's a little bit more stressful for them."

Fifty plus students make up the middle school band and there are 20 members of the high school band.

Traditional holiday songs were included during the concert as well as Jazz music and several solos.

"They sound great, especially the high school Jazz band," Monk said. "They sound like a CD at some points,"

Valeria Romero, plays the clarinet in the high school jazz band and says she loves the time she gets to spend playing with the band.

"This is my fourth year playing," Romero said. "I love band, I don't know what I'd do without this class. It's something I really enjoy."

Romero performed a solo for the song Jazzberry Jam, by Dale Lauder, a song she had only practiced for two weeks.

"I barely figured out I was going to play it," Romero said. "I had like two weeks to learn it."

Romero was not worried about being nervous and said she felt ready and always enjoyed performing for an audience.

Without their talented music teacher, students and faculty agree the band wouldn't be what it is today.

Being a part of the band is a choice at Grand Canyon School and Principal Steven Landes said the students' commitment shows how well the program is received.

"They're really committed," Landes said. "The nice thing is they're asking to be here. They have several elective choices, like art and P.E., and they are actually asking to join (Monk's) program over some of those things that traditionally are a lot more popular."

Landes said an attributing factor to the program's success is Monk's leadership and his ability to relate to his students.

"Mr. Monk has really built the program up," Landes said. "He's got a really dynamic personality. Kids are attracted to anybody that's going to recognize talent. Kids are attracted to that and anybody who recognizes positive things in them and gives them direction and purpose, he does that and he's good at it. The kids come here because they want to please him."

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