May 01, 2011

A Near Clean Sweep

In some regards, I feel bad for the groups the show up, not knowing what they've gotten themselves into when our school shows up. Some schools know. For instance, the week before our trip, our vocal director was talking to a vocal director for a school south of us, talking about his group was getting ready to go to Orlando.

Said the vocal director of the school south of us, "Wait. When are you going?"

Replied ours, 'Next week to the Festival'.

To which the response was, "Oh no. We're going. Now I need to tell my kids they aren't going to win...."

Nothing is guaranteed, of course, and our Concert band made a mistake that cost them first overall for bands, but still gave them an A score for Gold. But when you are with a school where kids actually AUDITION, to have the honor to attend, its just not the same world.

And what happens is these other kids see, "Oh. Middle School." They don't understand.

So a brief recap... there were 22 vocal groups coming from 11 schools. (You can enter men's, youth men's, women's, youth women's, traditional chorus. We typically enter all, but only had our youth men's.) For band it was nearly the same, 11 school with probably 20-25 different groups, jazz band, percussion, and various levels of concert band, maybe a 1st and 2nd band.

We stood at the Festival awards ceremony and they break it down into just such tiny categories that it's easy to win 1st in your division. It's when they start rolling it up that the competition is tremendous and when the other schools realize that the group of middle school kids, half of whom have no hair on their bodies and none of whom are shaving with our band girls not even filling out bathing suits, are in fact a tremendous force to contend with.

We won the following:

Gold- Youth Concert band, Youth Jazz band, Youth Percussion, Youth men's vocal.

Adjudicator's Award, for band you must score a 92 or above, for vocal, 95 or above, no distinction made on your age category or school size: Concert band, Jazz Band, Percussion, Vocal.

Special Awards to students that exhibited tremendous talent (10 given out): a young man from the Percussion group, a young man from band, and our vocal soloist. (We won three out of 10.)

Special recognition for a performance in Carnegie Hall: Concert band, Jazz band, Percussion, and Vocal. (We're not going. I guess they get invited all the time and it's very expensive.)

Best All Around Vocal, a wrap up of every vocal group regardless of who they are and what size school- Our Vocal.

Festival Award, must have entered a Vocal group, a Concert Band, and one other group (such as Jazz or Percussion), with a score closest to 300- Our school.

That Festival Award is like a 5 foot trophy. It was insane.

The kids walked out of there with tons of stuff. We were struggling to find a place of it all on the buses. One kid insisted on traveling with the big trophy at his feet. The whole way home he held onto it.

Heady stuff it was. Before the awards ceremony I kept saying, "I'm struggling seeing our little boys beating out these hundreds of high school kids..." and a Mom next to me said, "Yet, we do it."

And we did.

The only thing we didn't win was best Concert Band, because of the pretty major error the kids made, but that showed them all, as good as you are, mistakes are made that can be costly.

And for the record, when the adjudicator stepped forward to talk to them about their performance, a Dr in music from Vanderbilt, a tremendous music school for those not in the know, he said, "First let me tell you what an absolutely outstanding performance that is. My college band is working on it as we speak... and you all were just outstanding..."

He spend time directing them in different parts and I said to the Mom next to me, "I think he was itching to get his hands on these kids..." The tremendous amount of excitement as he guest conducted was palpable throughout the auditorium as he nearly jumped out of his skin with enthusiasm as he brought in bassoons, trumpets, and clarinets... taking them through strands of music so beautifully played, people pay good money for the experience.

It was... an amazing few days. More later...

Posted by Boudicca at May 1, 2011 10:12 AM

I am so glad it worked out so well. Coming home with the prize was always so much better than coming home empty handed.

Posted by: Curtis at May 1, 2011 05:06 PM

I remember when our bagpipe band was beaten at the Stone Mountain Highland Games by the Dunedin Middle School Pipes and Drums. Probably wasn't as big a deal as we thought, since we spent more time drinking beer than practicing. But still, there were some really good pipers among those wee bairns......

Posted by: Angus of Jura at May 1, 2011 06:51 PM

Curtis- The good thing about this Festival company is everyone leaves feeling good. I don't mean that as an 'Everyone deserves an A!', but if a band or vocal group has taken the time and money to come and compete, there MUST be something good you can say; something you can add to make them better and feel appreciative.

They are excellent about making these kids feel like it was worthwhile to spend all those hours practicing music that they wouldn't be caught dead listening to on their iPods.

In a time when getting teenagers away from video games, keeping them off of drugs and from gangs, is even harder than it was 10 years ago, they have to get positive feedback. They have to... no matter how hard it can be... and this Festival company is GREAT about realizing that.

So everyone goes home with lots of praise and some sort of warm fuzzy award. Just some of them go home with bigger ones...

Dad- Competing against a pipe band from a Dunedin school just flat isn't fair. Those kids are known to be THE BEST! I think they're born with pipes in their hands. Most schools have marching bands. Not Dunedin. They all play the frickin' bagpipes!

Posted by: Bou at May 1, 2011 08:37 PM

.. that is GREAT!....

Posted by: Eric at May 2, 2011 08:14 AM

Sounds like a clean sweep to me! Congratulations to all the members! :-D

I don't think Glades won anything - or if they did I didn't hear about it - the kids just enjoyed the trip.

Posted by: pam at May 2, 2011 08:59 AM

Wow - major congrats to them! That is awesome stuff indeed!!!

I think it's a good thing they did make at least one mistake. Anytime there is no mistake, kids tend to think they don't have to work quite as hard. Funny how it's the one little thing that can spur them on.

The quote I always try to remember to tell kids...
"Amateurs practice until they get it right. Professionals practice until they can't make a mistake". I've always liked that one because it conveys the amount of work that has to go into something to get the best results. But those kids sound like they are almost there. And that in itself is a total WOW!

Posted by: Teresa at May 6, 2011 11:58 AM