Honor Band and Choir student musicians were part of a Commencement Bay Middle School Honor Festival at Wilson High School in Tacoma earlier this year.
Key Peninsula Middle School Band and Choir teacher Staci Webb explained that the Commencement Bay Music Educators Association includes the Key and Gig Harbor peninsulas, Vashon Island, University Place and Tacoma. Teachers nominate their top students to participate. A panel chooses from these students to form a band, orchestra and choir.
Chosen students are notified in December and sent music. Then they spend about a month working on the music on their own, then arrive for rehearsal the day of the event at 8:30 a.m. and rehearse with a guest conductor all day. The performance is that afternoon.
“It’s a wonderful experience for the students,” Webb said. “It gives top kids in our groups a chance to be challenged and play difficult music while working alongside top students in the region. The experience of working with a guest conductor is invaluable.”
Becky Sharrett, Lighthouse Christian Navigator band director, had three band students from Lighthouse — “the first Lighthouse kids to ever participate in the Honor Festival,” she said. They were seventh-grader Jacob Boseley and eighth-graders Nathan Bodenman and Drake Bogataj.
“(I) loved practicing and playing with other people who loved music as much as I do,” Boseley said.
To Bodenman, “It was really cool to get together with so many talented people who have a love of music. It amazed me how none of us had ever met before but everything fell into place.”
Bogataj said, “The Honor Band experience helped me become a better trumpet player because everyone there was a good player. Listening to them made me realize what I was doing wrong or right and helped me improve my skills. The conductor pointed out how we could improve.”
Students from Harbor Ridge Middle School were led by music instructor Sheryl Clark.
Korren Miller’s “favorite thing was singing with other experienced singers.” Her favorite song was “Luci Care,” because “I love classical music.”
Choir mate Austin Small, “liked meeting new people who enjoy singing as much as I do. We learned to use ‘rhino lungs.’ ”
Said Elina Wong, “I learned that there is more than just singing a few notes. It’s about accents, dynamics and more.”
Reese Hoeksema said, “We learned to use do re mi in band warm-ups and how to play complicated music.”
Kopachuck Middle School musicians were under the guidance of music director Warren Hunt. Joyce Park, Honor Band clarinet, found it, “a genuine experience with wonderful people and it was truly an honor to be able to go and be rewarded with the applause of parents and fellow musicians.”
“Honor Choir is one of the most memorable things you will ever do,” said Kopachuck singer Nate Fowler. “It’s a lot of fun.” For choir mate Keiana Moody, “Every moment of it was amazing! The people were so kind and the conductor was awesome. I loved it!”
Kopachuck chum Emily Nold enthused, “I’m really glad I went! It was a great experience where we got the opportunity to learn new singing techniques and meet new friends. I loved it so much.”
KPMS Honor Choir singer Emily Opedal found it, “such an amazing experience. You get to meet a lot of new friends from other schools.”
James McGraw, “loved meeting all of the other Honor Choir students and the director was loads of fun.”
For Nicole Olim, “One of my favorite parts was, on our rehearsal breaks we all kept singing. I hope I’ll be able to do this again.”
To Lilli Roberts, “It was a great opportunity to learn new and harder music and meet new people.”
Carly Cashman-DiBiase felt it, “was an amazing experience. I learned a lot of new ways to sing and made new friends.”
“Honor Choir was a very exciting and fun time,” said KPMS student Emily Aliment. “I’m so glad to have participated in it three years in a row. It’s always a great time making music with others from across the region.”
Among Goodman Middle School musicians under music director Julie Allison, Loghan Myers said, “It was fun and worth my Saturday.”
For Spencer Moore, “It was fun to be taught by a director who was a legacy of a Sousa director.”
Jaden Abernathy found, “It was lots of fun and a great experience.”
Makena Edwards, “got to play as loud as I wanted to.”
Sophie Schuelke felt, “It was a good experience to be taught by another director,” and to Blythe Kamasz, “Mr. Allison is a very entertaining teacher.”
Every KPMS player was honored and excited to be chosen for Honor Band. To Connor Bass, it was “an amazing opportunity and fun experience. I learned a lot.”
Elizabeth Johnson, “was very excited because I have only been playing for two years. The best part of the long day was the concert and the conductor.”
Natalie Pierson found “the music challenged me but was exciting and fun. Playing with other students at the same level was exhilarating.” She made new friends and learned lots of new things to share with classmates.
Andy Ma said he “felt lucky. I worked hard to learn the music and was nervous the entire time but the director was really fun to work with.”
Can’t wait for next year.