SCMS band returns from N.Y.
by Mark Andrews
May 07, 2013 | 3336 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Members of the South Central Middle School honors band recently were invited to perform at New York’s Carnegie Hall March 28-31. After returning home and finishing their work with the Criterion Referenced Competency Tests, students and band director Sheila Smith spoke with The Daily Tribune News about their experience on and off the stage.

“Everything went according to plan, nobody got sick and we didn’t lose anybody,” Band Director Sheila Smith said, laughing.

During the trip, students explored the history of the city, even taking in a Broadway show.

“Our first night there we went to Times Square and they got to take that all in. Then, on Friday morning, we went to the 9/11 memorial and we had a little time to kill, so they went to one of the cathedrals where Alexander Hamilton was buried and ... it had the largest pipe organ in the United States,” Smith said.

On Saturday, March 30, the band performed at Carnegie Hall.

“After [band members] performed, the judicators took me back into a room to talk to me specifically about things we did well as well as offered some advice on some conducting clinics I might want to go to during the summer, and the kids got feedback and got to hear the judges comments — it was so educational and just a wonderful experience,” Smith said. “The sound [inside Carnegie Hall] is something I cannot describe, it was unlike anything I had ever heard.”

When asked what kind of overall impact the trip had on her students, Smith replied, “I’ve had several kids say this was the first time they had been away from home and they would like to go back [to New York] one day and they were going to work hard and go to college and do whatever it took to go back to New York one day. It’s just the way they were inspired ...

“... Many of them want to work hard now as a musician to get back in that hall one day, and some of them said they want to go back and hear someone else play in Carnegie Hall because they didn’t really get to hear anyone else.”

“It was really fun. I enjoyed going to New York,” eighth-grader Emily Sayers said, adding her favorite part of the trip was seeing Central Park and the 9/11 Memorial.

Sayers, who plays the flute, described the performance at Carnegie Hall as “breathtaking.”

“It was the most beautiful place in the world,” Sayers said. “You had your stage, you had the seats, you had a second floor, you had a third floor and then you had a top floor.”

She added, “The acoustics in that place were perfect. Flawless.”

Maddie Parks, an eighth-grader who plays clarinet, said she appreciated being able to travel to the city and hearing from professionals about the band’s performance.

“I thought it was really fun and exciting to be in a different place outside of Georgia,” Parks said. “I learned that our band is great, and if you work really hard, you can get somewhere good.”

Band receives new instruments

The band recently received 13 instruments through the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, made possible by a grand from the Hatfield Family Foundation. Smith explained the foundation caters to schools like SCMS where a majority of students receive free or reduced lunch, known as a Title I school.

“I had to do a lot of research on how many band students were served through the lunch program, etc., and I found out that we did qualify and so I submitted. And we thought it was over because we applied in August, and while we were in New York, we got the email,” Smith said. “... It amounts to about $18,000 worth of instruments, and it comes at a time where it’s so important because all of our school-owned instruments are 25 years old and many of them are depleted and can’t be repaired.

“... Unfortunately with the financial status the nation is in, we get no repair budget and no instrumental budget, no music budget, so it’s just coming to us at a perfect time.”