OCdts. On Parade

E 3161 Victoria Edwards (RMC 2003) recently tracked down OCdt Angela Dey – Cadet Wing Brass and Reed Major to discuss her experiences with the RMC Band.

eVeritas: What is your primary duty with regards to your band appointment? What do you consider the highlight of the Military College?

OCdt Angela Dey: I have been appointed the Cadet Wing Brass and Reed Major (CWBRM) for the fall semester 2010. This position is responsible to the Cadet Wing Band Officer (CWBO) for the direction and management of that section of the RMC Band. For me, the highlight of RMC is meeting new people who are going through challenges together with a common goal from all across the country. That, and of course, continuing to play music.

eVeritas: Outline your musical background prior to RMC.

OCdt Angela Dey: My musical experience is extensive. I have a musical family and started playing piano at a young age. After piano I played cello in a youth orchestra, and started trombone in grade 7. Every year from grade 8 until I graduated from high school I was selected to play in the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board All-Star Band. That was an amazing experience and in addition to playing as a band, the final show involved playing with the Fanfare Trumpets and Pipers from the Governor General’s Foot Guards Band.

My secondary school band was led by an accomplished Army Reserve musician, Lieutenant Colonel Fran Chilton-Mackay. It was only after joining the military that I really understood what her rank implied. High school also gave me access to all other band instruments to try and the most fun I had was playing in class and accompanying the musical productions. Sometimes I doubled on up to three brass instruments at once during songs because there were no other students to play the parts. At the end of high school I decided to keep playing trombone and as a gift my parents bought me a brand new Yamaha tenor trombone with an F-attachment. This is a nice combination of the high range one can get on a normal trombone combined with an extended bass range, but without the extra weight and size of a bass trombone which would be almost as big as me. In addition to playing trombone in the RMC Band I play piano in the Protestant chapel on Sundays.

eVeritas: Outline your experience with cadets.

OCdt Angela Dey: While my family is musical, I am the first to join the military or take part in the cadet program. I was a late joiner to Air Cadets, becoming a part of 872 Kanata Kiwanis RCACS when I was 15. I had the opportunity to receive my glider licence at a summer camp, and was selected for the power pilot scholarship but due to RMC’s recruit camp that summer I had to pass on the opportunity. While I was in cadets, a CIC officer, OCdt Linda LeBrun-Matta started a small band at the squadron. The band had less than 15 members, spanned a wide range of experience levels, but after practicing once every week we were able to play a couple of short pieces for the end-of-year parade. 872 RCACS has been doing well sending a couple of former air cadets each year to RMC.

eVeritas: Any mentors?

OCdt Angela Dey: I chose to go to RMC because my goal in life is to follow the steps of 8276 Dr. Marc Garneau (CMR 1970) and 13738 Col (Ret`d) Chris Hadfield (RRMC 1982) and become an astronaut. Going to RMC was a choice I made to get me closer to that dream.

eVeritas: To what extent does the RMC Band differ from your experience in civilian or military bands? Any tips?

OCdt Angela Dey: As a member of the RMC Band I play more marches than I ever have in my musical career. The marching and playing experience was also a challenge to overcome and takes a fair amount of coordination and situational awareness to cues given by the Drum Major and in the music. Memorizing the RMC March, Precision, was the smartest thing I’ve done because it’s played so often and sometimes without warning.

eVeritas: Please recommend resources or tips? E.g. training videos, books, CDs, or music clinics

OCdt Angela Dey: I enjoy the engagements the RMC Band performs, especially the trips and concerts where we can work on longer, more involved pieces that sound amazing when put together. In particular, I enjoy the Christmas Concert, Concert in Scarlets, and playing in support of RMC Paladins Hockey. I have never been to more live hockey games in my life since joining the band. The trip last fall to the United States Naval Academy, in Annapolis, was also a unique experience that I would like to repeat in the future. Both the Pipe and Drum and Brass and Reed bands benefited from the workshops offered by the American instructors and the Navy’s professional musicians.

As CWBRM I hope to live up to the standards of my predecessors by motivating band members, selecting good music in coordination with the Band O and CWBO, planning trips, and above all communicating with the band’s members. I stress feedback and learning from past mistakes. This year will see some changes to the overall organizational structure and responsibilities within the band, and I hope to establish early on who every band member should talk to given a particular situation (ie. “I need new reeds” or, “this trumpet is bent”).

eVeritas: What were your greatest challenges in the band(s)? Any tips for the repertoire, exchanges, clinics, recruiting, retention, travel, uniforms, retention of traditions…?

OCdt Angela Dey: The biggest concern I have for the band is participation and getting new members. It is unfortunate that resources and instructors for teaching a cadet a wind instrument from scratch are not available (unless that cadet is really really determined- it can’t be done). Because of this, the Brass and Reed band requires people who already have instrument experience.

Our issue: people who have been playing during high school will hang up their instruments when they get to RMC because they feel the early practices and commitments to playing at parades is too much, or they need to concentrate on academics, physical fitness, or their second language.

I am studying aeronautical engineering and am involved in several other clubs but my love of making music makes getting out of bed worthwhile and I enjoy when the passion spreads. There is the minor incentive that band members get up early to practise and thus do not participate in any other morning squadron activities. While the Brass and Reed Band does have issues with our uniforms, we are working to ensure that the proper pattern bandsmen’s uniforms will be worn in the future.

eVeritas: What is your best RMC band memory?

OCdt Angela Dey: My favourite band memory is meeting my boyfriend after the show at the 2008 Concert in Scarlets. Somehow there was a spark between him, the media coordinator who was picking up garbage at the time, and me, a trombone player, that became something wonderful. In conlusion, I love playing music, and I get goose bumps when every sound blends just right, and when chords resonate and resolve: Maybe it’s just me, but music is my passion.

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