“Our other band room was really small and just not big enough for our amount of students. Our band program has changed over the last seven or eight years where we’re now up to about half of our students in band and we really needed more space,” Rucker said. “This band room is state of the art and inside our band room the sound is absolutely amazing.”
He continued, “They have the latest technology in there and I would expect [Band Director Sheila Smith] will go on and venture out and do some other things in band just because of the technology they have in the band room.”
Rucker said he realized the band needed additional space during his first year as principal at the school in fall 2009.
“I would sit at my desk and I would hear the band practicing and while listening to the band play every day and to try and talk over the band to people here in my office, it took about a year for me to decide we need to move the band room,” Rucker said. “Other than being in the front office and being loud and very good, they needed more space.”
Seventh-grade trumpet player Javier Duarte said he enjoys having more space to practice in the new band room. He said the additional space will help with future performances.
“We have eighth-, seventh- and sixth-grade band and we all have trips to go to. We have LGPE coming up, ... which is Large Group Performance Evaluation ...,” Duarte said.
Also new to the band room are state-of-the-art sound proofing panels to dampen noise while also providing a greater acoustic sound within the band room.
“There are panels that make the instruments sound better,” Duarte said.
Smith elaborated on the design of the room, saying the additional space was necessary for the band to progress.
“Part of the acoustical design of the panels and the ceiling and the perforation in the walls is all a special perforation ... has just enough ‘live’ in there so it’s not deafening, it’s not over the decibel balance, but it gives them that sense of performing in a live auditorium,” Smith said. “...They can actually hold their instruments properly now — the flutes in the other room couldn’t even hold their instruments up because they couldn’t hold their arms up, the trombones had no slide room — so now they can now actually meet a standard where they’re sitting properly and playing their instruments the way they should be and just the sound itself, to be able to spread out is very, very helpful.”
The SCMS honor band recently returned from a the University of Georgia’s MidFest, held in December 2013, as one of two middle school bands in the state selected to perform in front of about 1,000 students in attendance for the festival.
“I think that really made them more aware and I think they worked even harder knowing they were performing for their peers, so their work ethic really grew a lot,” Smith said.
The band also performed at the Georgia Music Educators Association In Service Conference, held Jan. 30, 2013, to Feb. 1. While Smith said the trip was a great experience for students, and for herself as she was coaching the band to perform in front of her peers, it didn’t necessarily go according to plan.
“We almost didn’t get to go because of the snow. We were out of school and were actually supposed to leave on [Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013,] and of course, that’s when everything moved in,” Smith said. “We thought we were going to have to cancel and I could just see nightmare after nightmare because we had already paid for chartered buses and we had already paid for a hotel.
“We had a guest conductor come in from Boston who wrote a piece for our band and we premiered it for all of the music educators, so I could just see disappointment in all the kids. What ended up happening was everyone worked with us and Leisure Time, who is the charter company here in Emerson, gave us no penalty; Georgia Music Educators Association revamped the whole schedule so that we got to play on Friday afternoon.
“We didn’t lose any hotel money, we didn’t lose any bus money — it just all worked out.”
The Bartow County Board of Education previously approved the construction of the approximate $800,000 band room to be paid for with Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds.