E 3161 Victoria Ewards (RMC 2003) recently tracked down two leaders from the RMC Band – DCWBO and CWHDL – OCdt Dave Tanguay and OCdt Laurel Burchell. Both Dave and Laurel share their backgrounds prior to arriving at RMC and the highs and challenges of being members of the band.
eVeritas: What is your primary duty with regards to your band appointment? What do you consider the highlight of the Military College?
Dave: I am the Deputy Cadet Wing Band Officer (DCWBO). I am responsible to manage the administrative part of the RMC Band, work with the Cadet Wing Band Officer (CWBO) and assist him in his decisions regarding the Band. I think that the RMC Band is the highlight of the Royal Military College. The music is important. With it you motivate troops in their activities and it’s very impressive to see a marching band leading the parade: it gives life to the parade.
Laurel: My primary responsibilities lie with the highland dancers. I ensure the three weekly practices run smoothly and efficiently, that all dancers are able to perform to the best of their abilities and that the dancers are always ready to represent the band and the college in the best way.
eVeritas: Outline your Cadet background prior to RMC. Have any family members attended/served at a Military College? What advice would you give family members?
Dave: Before coming here, I completed an advanced music course with Cadets where I learned how to manage a band, repair instruments and increase my music skills. After that, I did two years before coming to Kingston at CMR St-Jean as a Cadet Section Commander (CSC), Deputy Cadet Squadron Leader (DCSL) and Cadet Squadron Leader (CSL). I am the first of my family not only to attend RMC but also serve in the Canadian Forces. To be here is an excellent opportunity to learn, explore and apply the high potential of leadership in each of us. Also, it’s an occasion to establish professional relationships and thus, have a positive work environment with people you know.
Laurel: I joined army cadets in Vancouver, B.C. when I was 14 and remained very active in the ranks until I was 17 and left for RMC. For the family members of the students, and of every serving member, support is the most important. Understanding what RMC life is like can be difficult for someone who is not there but support is essential because it is what gets every student through all the hard times.
eVeritas: Outline your musical/dance background prior to RMC. What instrument(s) or dance styles do you perform? Any mentors?
Dave: In addition to my musical experience in Cadets, I also did five years with my school band. We played a high-level repertoire, did many competitions outside of my hometown and had the chance to practice during a week long clinic with musicians and faculty from the McGill Symphony Orchestra. I am still a trumpet player after eight years in RMC Band. I had the opportunity to learn, play and train with Major Laval Labbé, former Associate Band Director of the Royal 22e Régiment and currently Staff Officer 2 – Band for the Regional Cadet Support Unit (East) in St-Jean.
Laurel: Before RMC I actually was involved in Irish dance. Irish dance is different yet similar to Highland dance so it did provide me with a basic background. Other than that I had a basic experience with jazz, hip hop, and ballet.
eVeritas: To what extent does the RMC Band differ from your experience in civilian or military bands?
Dave: The RMC Band isn’t very different of the other military bands I played with, but there is a little something interesting. We frequently play on parade as a combined band with B&R and P&D together. Also, you have the possibility to do performance with every section of the Band and traveling everywhere to see different bands.
eVeritas: What are you doing these days e.g. OJT/language training/ RMC or other music-related taskings?
Dave: I am on the Nijmegen team, ready to walk 160km in four days in the Netherlands.
Laurel: Currently I am at the Mega in Saint-Jean-sur-Richileau for a 10 week SLT course. It has been good so far and has allowed all of the RMC students to progress in their second language.
eVeritas: Please recommend resources or tips? E.g. training videos, books, CDs, or music clinics.
Dave: I recommend using all the instructors and experienced people at your disposal. A book is good but nothing can equal personal interaction; you can work together and know in real time your mistakes.
eVeritas: What were/are your greatest challenges at the Military College? Any tips for balancing the 4 pillars with extracurricular activities?
Dave: My greatest challenge is to keep a flexible schedule between everything. You have the choice: remove something in your schedule (impossible), stop going out with friends (an easy way to alienate oneself) or try to keep ahead on everything (anticipate and trying not to leave homework to the last time).
Laurel: For me personally, time management was a huge hurdle. The ability to manage your time well is essential as it enables you to be involved in many activities while managing it all.
eVeritas: What were your greatest challenges in the band(s)? Any tips for the repertoire, exchanges, clinics, recruiting, retention, travel, uniforms, retention of traditions…?
Dave: As a member of the RMC Band, you should think of getting another pair of parade boots because you will see, after four consecutive parades, that your boots have become unrecoverable. Really, it’s a marvellous experience to be in the Band. It’s the time to learn music and an instrument, to perform everywhere, and get the chance to meet a lot of people.
Laurel: For the dancers specially, the location for practices leaves much to be desired. The room we practice in has wooden floors that are hard on the feet, and although there is a large amount of space there are no mirrors. Mirrors would enable to dancers to fix positioning. This year I hope to utilize a room at the Kingston Military Community Sport Center so that the dancers have a better opportunity to make user of mirrors.