Music Makes a Difference

Music Makes a Difference

Nicole Keeler

Wentworth Music School has been putting on rock concerts that have highlighted its talented students for 10 years. Having just achieved their 19th show in February, Wentworth is continuing to teach, entertain, and be an active part in the community by raising over $140,000 for the Children’s ward at KGH.

I interviewed Noel Wentworth, organizer of the student rock shows, to find out more about the growth and recognition of the concerts among rock stars and other music schools worldwide.

• Why did you decide to start these concerts?

I wanted to do something to set us apart from our competition. Basically, a band based recital. For the record, I had the idea for these shows years before the School of Rock movie, which our shows seem to emulate. It was a tough sell back then and teachers were resistant to change or trying something new. When the movie came out it solidified what I was talking about, gave our teachers a visual of the goal and how we were going to include as many people as possible on stage (thank you Jack Black!).

• How have they grown over the past years?

Our first show was really not that big. Maybe 100 people at the Okanagan College with 2 bands. This grew to the Rotary Centre for the Arts where we sold out the theatre twice with 12 bands. Then it was on to the Community Theatre. Call it a leap of faith but I knew it would work. We’re now selling out the theatre every time we do a show. I can’t imagine ever going back to the old way of doing things.

• Are there any other music schools that do events similar to this?

The only other school in the world that I have found that does exactly what we do is the Singapore Academy of Rock in Singapore. They do their shows once every second year. We do ours twice a year. Don’t get me wrong, there are many schools that do concert performance based recitals, just not the same size or caliber. One of our student bands got the chance to perform in Singapore a few years ago. We’re hoping one day they will come to Canada to perform in one of our shows too.

• How many people attended the show this year?

We’ve sold out the community theatre consistently for a few years now. So, 853 people plus a dozen staff at the theatre. We usually turning away 100-200 people at the door.

• How do you see the concerts expanding in upcoming years?

Two shows are on my list next for how to expand. This is not impossible, just more organization. People laugh but I’ve been saying for years that we could play Prospera Place arena one day. I have some ideas on how to do that. Nothing is impossible.

•  Last year, Canadian band ‘Prism’, was a special guest to the Tribute to Prism show.  Do you have plans to bring in other bands?

I’d love to have more guest artists on stage with us. We’ve worked in the past with Alan Frew (lead singer for Glass Tiger), Darby Mills (lead singer for the Headpins) and Nancy Nash (session Vocalist for on songs like Loverboy’s Turn me loose or Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a prayer). I’m hoping to plant some seeds this year to make this happen quite possibly in 2017.

• To date, how much money have the concerts raised for the Children’s ward at KGH?

I don’t have final numbers just yet from our most recent show, but I know it will be over $140,000

• What is the commitment level for a student that wants to perform in one of these concerts?

They need to commit to the practice of an assigned song, three one hour rehearsals, sound check and the show.

• Can you tell us about any interesting connections you’ve made because of these concerts?

As I was saying, members of Prism, Darby Mills, Nancy Nash and Alan Frew. But also Gene Simmons, Jim Vallance (Cowriter most notably with Bryan Adams), Pat Steward (drummer of Summer of 69 and Kids wanna Rock by Bryan Adams, The ODDS, Wide Mouth Mason). There is a lot more to this from a public relations aspect too.

•  Do you think that these shows have inspired other music schools to do something similar?

I think so. I get calls usual once or twice a year asking how we do it. I know of a school on the coast that uses our Band Factory Band program brand as the name for his program now.

From a dream to a reality, the Wentworth shows have grown substantially over the past few years, and are continuing to expand. Having preformed in these shows myself, I know that they’re a lot of fun, and everyone really enjoys themselves on stage. Noel Wentworth has big plans for the program, and there is no doubt that the team at Wentworth will be able to achieve them.