Seventeen band students recently qualified for State competition and are far from being finished with practicing their pieces. They have to work out any tweaks that they may have because for State their pieces must be flawless.
“The judges are much much stricter,” junior and pianist Samantha Senft-Greenberg said. “I’m going to have to put in a lot more time into practicing if I want to receive a superior rating.”
The State performances have been scheduled for April 2, and all 17 participants are now buckling down and polishing their pieces. The musicians qualified for state at the Florida Bandmasters Association District 10 Solo and Ensemble MPA on Feb. 10-11. To qualify for State, an advanced, college level piece had to be performed at a superior rating.
Solo and Ensemble occurs annually, and its primary function is for students to master a musical piece, either alone or with a group, and to perform those pieces in front of judges. The judges then rate the performance on a scale of superior, excellent, good, fair and poor.
Band students performed in a total of 33 solo and ensemble events and received 22 superior ratings.
“I was shocked, actually, at the rating we got,” sophomore and percussionist Stephen Thomas said. “We performed a percussion ensemble and to me it didn’t sound all that amazing, but we practiced a lot and it paid off.”
The participants had little practice time during class, so they took time out of their schedules to master their pieces.
“I give them as much time as I can to practice in class, but it’s up to them to use that time wisely,” band director Carol Allen said. “We have very little time as it is to practice our MPA and concert songs, so the students that are participating in this event have to ultimately double-up on practicing.”
Percussion captain Kelsey Nickerson practices numerous hours a day to master her pieces.
“I can never practice enough,” Nickerson said. “There is always room for improvement.”
Senft-Greenberg shares a similar sentiment.
“[For MPAs] I had to practice about 15 to 20 hours total to master my piece,” Senft-Greenberg said. “Luckily, I am a fast learner, otherwise I’d be practicing a lot more, like most of the students in my class.”
Allen has high hopes for her students who qualified for State.
“I wish more students had wanted to participate in Solo and Ensemble, but I am happy regardless.” Allen said. “I wish the best of luck to all my State performers. If they practice, then they’ll do great.”
By Michael Sneft-Greenberg