Olser Band has long been known to have one of the best elementary bands in the district. But it took VSB TOC and Osler band volunteer teacher Valerie Jackson by surprise, when she showed up earlier this year to take over as the band's conductor, just how good the band really was.
"With them they are very responsive to even the most minor gestures," said Jackson. "They are highly musical and committed."
When Jackson first learned the band was in search of a new leader from her advisor at UBC Karen Lee, she said she was told they were a special troupe.
"They were everything Karen said and more. The first time I worked with them, I was pretty much speechless at their level of musicality," she said.
Jackson says the incredible musical prowess of the Osler Band was something that had been built slowly over many years by retired teacher Elaine McGauley.
McGauley took over the band's torch from Margaret Large in 1981.
Over the next three decades, McGauley would slowly build the band up until it included close to 100 members.
Her secrets of success? Get the administration and the PE department on side (critical for rehearsal space and avoiding scheduling conflicts) and always expect a lot of your students.
"Never underestimate what your students can accomplish on their instruments. More than once, the Osler students were told that they sounded like a secondary band," said McGauley.
Under McGauley's instruction, the Osler Band played at one of the open venues at Expo 86 and then in 2008, the band played in the Kiwanis Festival where they were recognized and received an invitation to MusicFest Canada in Ottawa. There they received a Gold rating and were invited back in 2010 and again in 2012, where they again won Gold and were also recognized with a new award for being the "Outstanding Young Band".
Jackson for her part says the years of drill, practice and performance have paid off.
"They are amazing because it is like driving a very finely tuned car," she said of the band.