Sixth grade band students across Shawnee County participated in Band Fest on April 18. Band Fest offered students a chance to meet and listen to other band students at Washburn Rural High School and Middle School. It was an opportunity for younger students to see how their musical skills will progress in future years.
Junior Natalie Miller plays clarinet in the high school Wind Ensemble. She thinks this event is crucial in encouraging sixth graders to pursue music.
“I think this is an important event for kids to get involved in because it helps to prepare for them for the future. All of the band students at the high school hope to encourage these younger kids to continue on with music,” she says. “It is a beneficial opportunity for many reasons.”
Band Fest has gone on for several years, with the top tier middle school band playing pieces and the High School Wind Ensemble to follow. Directing the sixth grade and High School bands is Luke Chaffee, the head band director at Washburn Rural High School. Assistant band directors include Christopher Exum and Melissa Sauls. Dr. Jack Smith directed the middle school band.
Sixth grade band students came to the high school on the morning of April 18. From there, they rehearsed for several hours to prepare for the night’s concert. The result was something truly exceptional.
The Band Fest experience would not have been complete without the combined selection at the end of the concert. This is when all three bands played together. The result is a display of musical talent from students ranging age eleven to age eighteen.
Miller is thrilled to be a part of Band Fest.
“It’s cool to bring together all these kids. It really shows that music is able to connect us on another level, as we don’t even have to talk to each other to produce beautiful sounds together. I think that is really exciting.”
Band Fest will continue on for many years to come, giving dozens of students a chance to see the value of music and how it will impact them as they progress through school. Hopefully this will pave the way for students to pursue music in their post-secondary education as well.
In order to make an artistic impact on student’s education, schools should continue to encourage music. If not, we might lose the benefits of communicating in this way.