South Central Middle School’s honor band next month will head to Athens to perform at the University of Georgia Middle School Band Festival with about 1,500 to 2,000 middle school band students from across the state. The band also will open for the University of Georgia Wind Symphony.
“We submitted our performance from Carnegie Hall last year to get accepted and then, of course, we have all new literature for the performance this year,” Band Director Sheila Smith said. “We have a lot of extra practices — we practice every Monday after school and then we have actually gotten individual instrumentalists to come in to do sectionals, so someone comes in and works with the clarinets once a week, works with the trumpets, etc. “
This semester the band features a total of 250 students. The honor band consists of about 90 students.
“Since I submitted that tape, I also submitted the same tape to our music affiliation, which is called the Georgia Music Educators Association and that’s where every orchestra director, choral director, general music teacher, band director — that’s the affiliation we belong to,” Smith said. “Our kids do district band, all-state band through that organization and they have a big conference in Savannah every year in January for all of the music teachers in the state and so we, along with one other middle school, were selected to perform for our Georgia Educators [in January].”
According to www.gmae.org, “Briefly stated, our mission is to promote the advancement of music education in Georgia. To do this we sponsor conferences for our teacher members, providing continuing education and professional growth opportunities. For the students of our members we provide performance evaluations for individuals and ensembles including band, choral, and orchestra students at the elementary, middle and high school levels. We stage all-state events ranging from elementary school to college and university.”
Smith said she appreciates the help of the SCMS band boosters, who have acquired the assistance of middle school band composer David Shaffer.
“[Shaffer] is the director of bands at Ohio State and he wrote a piece on our band and it’s based on the Etowah River. It’s called ‘Shooting the Rapids’ and he is going to fly down for this conference and premiere and guest-conduct that performance with my kids,” Smith said.
She continued, “[Band] does so much for [middle school students]. It teaches life skills to them, things you can’t actually get in the classroom. They get to see other cultures, they get to see students from different schools. ...
“Each performance is such an honor, it builds for the next group so the majority of those students who played at Carnegie Hall are now in high school, but they built [the foundation] for this year’s group and it got them selected to perform at UGA and at a state convention, so hopefully this year will build into something for next year’s group.”