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Partnership helps reinstate band program at Irvine School

March 2, 2018

Mark assisting students at Irvine School
(Image) Mark Ward, band instructor at Irvine School shows students how to properly hold their instrument.

For Mark Ward, brass instructor at Medicine Hat College’s (MHC) Conservatory of Music and Dance, helping to reinstate a band program at Irvine School was an easy decision – in particular as he recalls his first day with the students. 

“There was a lot of excitement in the room, I mean what other class do you get to give students noisemakers and tell them to just go at it. Seeing their faces as they made the first sound on their instrument was thrilling. I am fortunate to have this opportunity.”

The program, which is funded by MHC and Prairie Rose School Division No. 8, launched February 2018. It has 18 students from grades five to nine and consists of trumpets, clarinets, flutes and a trombone.

According to Carol Carlson, principal at Irvine School, the program had been temporarily suspended due to an inability to find an instructor.

“It can be a challenge to find a teacher with the skill set to lead a band program, in particular for rural schools. However, to have Mark Ward join our school and bring his passion and skillset is a real win for us.”

For Irvine School, which is known for its dinner theatre, drama and fine arts program, offering band is a nice addition.

“There is a lot of research that shows that students can benefit from music in terms of their ability to learn. There is a piece that comes developmentally when students commit to something and create a passion for that. It can really lead them to create a passion in other parts of their life,” says Carlson.

Currently, Ward is focusing on helping students learn how to read music with an emphasis on rhythm, correct notes, tuning and good tone quality.

The band’s goal is to participate in Prairie Rose’s annual festival - Kaleidoscope of the Arts. During this event, students from across the division will participate with art, music, multimedia, dance, and drama at the Esplanade.

Ward hopes that the students’ experiences, in and out of the classroom, will spark a lifelong passion for music.

“Music has allowed me many opportunities to travel and connect with people all over the world. It gives a sense of confidence and discipline because you do have to practice.  It’s not the time when you look forward to practicing that benefits you the most, it’s the times that you have to make yourself do it that builds character and determination.”

Carlson is hopeful that with the support of MHC, Prairie Rose and Mark the program will have longevity.

“The kids have an opportunity to move on to Eagle Butte and continue to explore music. This program will provide them a great foundation – and as a school and community we are excited about that.”

For more information on the activities happening at Irvine School or Prairie Rose School Division No. 8 visit:

To see what is happening at MHC’s Conservatory of Music and Dance visit

  Watch to learn more about the band program at Irvine School