Musicians flourish with auditioned bands


Nell Jaskowiak

Freshman Caleb Upchurch plays the french horn in concert band. “I think band has been fun so far, and the level of music is about average,” Upchurch said. Currently in the process of selecting what to play in their October concert, the students are playing a wide variety of pieces from Robert Sheldon to Caesar Giovannini.

Walk down the music hallway at any given time of day and there is probably a band student working in a practice room. Come back during third, fifth or sixth hour and find a full band rehearsing their pieces, sound spilling into the science hall nearby. With an actively growing program, band director Brad Wallace chose to divide the bands by skill level this year.

“I feel like I can better meet my students at where they are and I can challenge them more appropriately,” Wallace said. “In the past the way we divided our bands was basically that those who were in marching band were in one class, and all of the others were in another class. Now it’s a variety of students mixed together, and that allows us to have them where they should be.”

Being able to take on repertoire more fitting to students’ skill levels was a huge motivator for the change, and for many students, this increases their enjoyment of the class as well as what they can learn from it.

“We’re all definitely more focused and more willing to put in the extra work to get better, and we’re all capable of harder pieces, so we can play challenging pieces that are more fun to play,” junior and percussionist Weston McGuire said. “Plus all of us are more focused and more mature as upperclassmen, so it’s a lot easier to get stuff done.”

In the first week of school, Wallace asked each of his classes to decide upon classroom procedures and rules for their hour, allowing the students to help shape the class to best fit their needs and wants.

“[The new symphonic band has] a lot more independence and higher expectations; on the first day even, there was a lot less messing around,” senior and flutist Audrey Heathcote said.“[Here] people want to get better and people want to make music and I just think that’s really cool.”

One of Wallace’s biggest hopes for the new system is that it will encourage more advanced students to be role models to others around them and encourage less skilled players to reach higher levels.

“I think I’m going to improve a lot this year, since I’m around all these really good percussionists and I’m playing some really good pieces and it’s just really going to challenge me, and I’ll hopefully grow from it,” McGuire said.

Already working on a wide variety of full band pieces as well as smaller ensembles ahead of an October concert, band students are energetic and optimistic about what this year will bring.

“Mr. Wallace is always good about finding new stuff to do, I feel like he’s really expanded the program; I remember how many people did solo and ensemble my freshman year and how many did it last year,” Heathcote said. “I was just neutral [about band class] before, but for this I’m excited every day, I’m ready for band.”