International influx revives Fredericton High School band

A boost in immigration to New Brunswick is proving to be music to the ears of one teacher at Fredericton High School.

Influx of international students almost doubles size of school's concert band

An influx of foreign students have helped revive the school band at Fredericton High School. 2:10

A boost in immigration to New Brunswick is proving to be music to the ears of one teacher at Fredericton High School.

Conductor and music teacher Don Bosse once worried that high school bands were disappearing.

For 20 years, Bosse watched as repeated cuts to music programs in elementary schools started shrinking the pool of talent in high school.

Fredericton High School music teacher Don Bosse says international students have given new life to the school's concert band. (CBC)
At one point, Bosse's concert band at FHS had only 55 of the school's 1,900 students.

But now, thanks to an influx of international students, Bosse's band has swelled to almost 100 students.

"It's been quite a circle, because the bands were deteriorating, and now in this school they've grown, and they're bursting at the seam," said Bosse.

"Right now, 47 per cent of our band is international students," he said. "So, it has increased our numbers tremendously."

Peter Park is part of the change. The baritone saxophone player moved to Fredericton from Korea when he was in Grade 4.

"It was a great opportunity for me to start playing sports and band at the same time, because if I was in Korea, I probably wouldn't know nothing about music, or playing sports," he said. "I'd be just stuck in the library, just studying doing math problems."

Tenor sax player Bridget Collrin says the band is a community of friends. And she admits, some of her Asian friends have raised the bar in the band.

"Some of us might be a bit jealous of how much better they work for things," she said. "They strive to be better in what they do. And even in school, they're very dedicated to get what they have here, and in band."

The school now has students from almost 60 countries.

"Everybody brings something different, especially since musical styles all vary, depending on where you're from," said percussionist Vitta Morales.

"For example, if you're Latin, maybe you know how to play the clave better than most, or the congas, or what not."

Bosse says for students looking to fit in at FHS, music is proving to be the perfect answer, providing an instant camaraderie with an international language.