Bands prepare for evaluation in MPAs

Coming back to school for band kids also means learning music for Music Performance Assessments. MPAs are well known in the music department as a concert-like performance and sight reading, where the performers are evaluated by judges. The judging follows a state-wide standard of superior, excellent, good, fair and poor ratings, with superior being the highest achievement, and poor the lowest.

This year, advanced band and wind ensemble will be participating in band MPAs. Middle school MPAs, where the advanced band will play, will be on March 18 and 19 at Cocoa Beach High School. Wind ensemble will participate in high school MPAs at Eau Gallie High school on March 14 and 15. The bands will each play three pieces of concert music, then sight-read music after looking at it for three or five minutes.

“You have a couple different songs, and you practice really, really hard on them,” freshman Skylar Johnson said. “You practice a little bit harder than you would for a regular concert.”

Johnson is in advanced band this year, but remembers what it was like to be a first-time MPA participant.

“[Last year] I was very nervous because I’d never done that before and I didn’t know how it was going to be,” Johnson said. “[This year] I’ve been through the process already, and I’m one of the older kids in this class, and I’m just kind of guiding some people.”

Sophomore Jordan Stowers explained what MPAs felt like to her last year as a newcomer to the process.

“At first I thought of it like a concert and I treated it as such,” Stowers said. “Once I actually got there I realized how super wrong I was and was mostly thinking ‘wait, where do I go next?’ and ‘oh snap, sight reading, I suddenly forgot how to do that.’”

Johnson looks forward to MPAs this year.

“I’m really excited,” Johnson said.  “I really like MPAs because it’s a different experience, you don’t get to do MPAs for everything, you know? It’s a fun process and it challenges you.”

Stowers has gained from the experience.

“Besides from the musical techniques from practicing, I learned how to sight read in just under three minutes and how to be polite at a band competition,” Stowers said. “I also realized just how fun it is showing off what you worked on so hard for months to make perfect, making all those scales totally worth it.”