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The Band Director's Lounge Podcast

Welcome to the Band Director’s lounge, a podcast about what makes great instrumental music programs. I am a band director trying to build a great program by learning from others and sharing my knowledge along the way.

Jun 24, 2020

“Every student has untapped potential. Talent X Effort = Ability and Achievement” - Andrew Klassen

 Band Director at Menonite Brethren Collegiate Institute, Winnipeg Canada

Welcome back to The Band Director’s Lounge!

Today I am chatting with Mr. Andrew Klassen who teaches at Menonite Brethren Collegiate Institute in Winnipeg, Canada. Andrew and I first got connected through a trip that I was going to be taking with my high school band students this spring and his school was going to host us for part of our tour. Together we had done much of the leg-work to get the exchange day organized and then….COVID hit one week before we were about to depart to Canada. In hindsight, it was good that things played out the way they did with the cancellation of our trip. However based on my interactions with Mr.Klassen from afar I wanted to get to know him and his program and share that with you.


Andrew Klassen has taught 6-12 band at Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute for the past 33 years.

Andrew is a graduate of the University of Manitoba, where he won numerous performance scholarships and competitions. He is the first saxophonist in Canada to be awarded the Royal Conservatory of Music Gold Medal for his ARCT diploma, and is a first prize winner of both the Lawrence Genser and Women’s Musical Club Scholarship Competitions.

Mr. Klassen has adjudicated throughout the Prairies, instructed in saxophone at the University of Manitoba and taught pedagogy at the University of Winnipeg. As a performer, he has played as a saxophonist with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, and as a violist in the Bel Canto String Quartet, and is active in leading worship at Elmwood Mennonite Brethren Church. 

He is a former Artistic Director and guest conductor of the Winnipeg Wind Ensemble. Mr. Klassen has also guest-conducted the University of Manitoba Wind Ensemble and Concert Band, the Manitoba Junior, Intermediate, and Senior Honour Bands, and numerous regional honour bands, community bands, and band camps. Andrew is a recipient of the Manitoba Band Association’s Award of Distinction, the University of Manitoba’s Excellence in Music Education Award, and has presented on music education topics at the Manitoba Music Conference. 

Each August, Mr. Klassen coordinates a highly successful Junior Band Summer Camp which has served over 1200 students from 80 Manitoba schools the past 24 years.

Episode Overview

  • Background & MBCI (02:16)
  • Band and music at MBCI (20:18)
  • Scheduling, practice, rehearsal, practice logs (31:50)
  • The Watkins-Farnum Performance Scale and grading (42:50)
  • Talent X Effort = Ability and Achievement (58:40)
  • Parent Buy-in (66:40)
  • Being an active performer and modeling our craft (78:00)
  • Books that have impacted teaching and musicianship (82:36)
  • Advice for young directors (88:30)
  • What makes a great band program? (92:14)

And that wraps up today’s episode.

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Thanks again for tuning in, I will see you back here next time in The Band Director’s Lounge.

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