Band and Band Music in Canada

Band music in Canada helps promote cultural and music values and heritage, and there are community, military, university, and school bands that help develop musical values and tastes.

Community Bands

Community bands are usually locally based and focus on specific genres or perform across diverse genres. The repertoire often includes Canadian composers and performers. Some bands also perform together with professional singers and soloists as well as other community orchestras, ensembles, and performers. The focus is on enjoyment and relaxed environment for the band and audience.

There are hundreds of community bands in Canada – the Sackville Citizens’ Band, Port City Second Chance, Valley Community Concert, Halifax Concert, L’Union Musicale De Shawinigan, and many others.

School Ensembles

School bands mainly play music by Canadian performers. They are amateur ensembles made of student musicians and performers. They use a range of musical instruments such as bass guitars, string basses, percussion and brass instruments, as well as woodwind instruments (reed instruments and flutes). There are different types of school bands such as, for example, modern, jazz, and marching bands and chamber ensembles. School ensembles can be divided into high school and middle high school bands as well.

Regimental and Military Bands

Examples of military bands in Canada include the Royal Winipeg Rifles, Windsor Regiment Band, The Brockville Rifles, and the The C & E Garrison Military Band, among others. Some orchestras and ensembles perform for Governors General, Prime Ministers, Heads of State, and Royalty. Military bands also participate in concerts and perform for local communities. They have diverse repertoires, from jazz to marches and classical music. Other ensembles also perform rock music, polka, smooth jazz, and big band music. Military bands perform across a diverse range of genres, including popular music and more traditional marches and participate in different events such as ceremonial occasions, celebrations, military tattoos and street parades, charity benefits, and public concerts, among others. Some military and regimental bands even have recordings and albums to reach wider audiences. They also participate in initiatives, events, and activities organized by the Canadian government and the provincial, territorial, and local authorities. Such initiatives, for example, are the National Aboriginal History Month and the Innovation Superclusters Initiative. In addition to military functions and parades, bands participate in shows and diverse public performances, including special events across the border (TRADOC Military Tattoo in Virginia and the Fort Ticonderoga Tattoo, for example).

Military ensembles often include a string ensemble, a choir, and brass and reed instruments.

College Bands in Canada

There are college marching bands in Canada, prominent examples being the Western Mustang, Simon Fraser University Pipe, Queen’s Bands, and Lady Godiva Memorial, among others. The Western Mustang Band is a college student marching ensemble which comprises woodwind, percussion, and brass instruments and plays music at the TD Waterhouse Stadium for each game of the Western Mustangs. The ensemble also performs at a variety of events such as social and orientation week events, Santa Claus parades, and others. Examples are the London Pride and London Santa Clouse Parades and the University of Western Ontario Homecoming. The repertoire includes a variety of genres and instruments such as baritone, trombone, F horn, tenor and alto saxophone, clarinet, marching bells, and bass and snare drum. The Queen’s Bands are comprised of six separate units and namely, cheerleaders, a color guard, highland dancers, a brass band, drum corps, and pipe band. This is Canada’s oldest and largest college band with some 120 student members. They have distinct uniforms that consist of Queen’s tams, sweaters in three colors, and white duck trousers complete with details such as glengarries, full and half plaids, tunics, kilts, and spats and hoses.

The Simon Fraser University Pipe Band has won a number of international competitions and produced recordings and albums such as Alive In America, Live at Carnegie Hall, At The Worlds, and many others.