5 area bands receive all Superior ratings at Music Performance Assessments

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The Hanceville High School Concert Band was one of five in Cullman County to receive all Superior ratings at its Music Performance Assessment. (contributed)

CULLMAN, Ala. – When football season is over and high school bands pack up their marching equipment, the focus shifts to concert performances. While marching bands can go to several competitions throughout the season to be judged and rated on their performances, most concert bands only have one judgment: the Alabama Music Educators Association’s Music Performance Assessment (MPA).

MPAs are held at different locations throughout the state, but the process for each one is basically the same: each band chooses three pieces with contrasting styles – typically a march, a ballad and a third style in between the other two speeds, one of which must be chosen from an approved list – and performs them in front of three judges, then goes to a different room to sight-read (play music that they've never seen or practiced before) in front of one judge. The scoring process is very similar to that of marching competitions, on a scale of 0-100 with ratings like Superior (90-100), Excellent (80-89.9), Good (70-79.9), Fair (60-69.9) and Poor (below 60). At their performances this year, five bands around Cullman County scored Superior ratings from every judge for which they performed.

The Tribune reached out to the band directors for comment.

Evan Curtis, Holly Pond High School Band

"We began preparing for this performance the first week of January and the kids have spent countless hours rehearsing since. I’m just overwhelmed with pride for our students and that their hard work paid off. Not many groups receive all Superiors and for us to earn that is a very big deal. Being a successful group comes down to dedication and strong work ethic. I think we have really great students and music educators in our school system that enable these things to take place."

Christopher Smith, Cullman High School Symphonic Band

"We started working on our music and practicing sight-reading when we came back from Christmas break, and actually we took two groups up to UNA – my group, the symphonic band, and the concert band, which was led by Mr. Doug Teuscher. The concert band received Excellent ratings all around and the symphonic band, this was actually the 26th year in a row that we've received an overall Superior rating.

“We're all really proud of the students, of both groups, for their hard work and what they were able to achieve. You know, when you can put a group of students in a room with a piece of music they've never seen before and have them play it for a judge, and do it successfully, it really makes everyone proud. The students are proud of themselves, and it makes us as directors proud to see all these skills we've been teaching them since middle school really pay off. They represented our school and community very well and we are looking forward to all that they will accomplish in the future. 

“We're not done performing yet; the jazz band will be performing at the Strawberry Festival in April, and all three bands (symphonic, concert and jazz) will have their spring concerts on May 2."

Skylar King, Vinemont High School Band

"This year our concert band performed March 5 at Norton Auditorium. The band is comprised of high school students, a few eighth graders and two seniors. This composition of students really show the maturity of this group, the leadership of our upper classmen and our potential for growth in the future.  

“This year our band program received a Superior rating from every judge, from our marching band, drum major, auxiliaries, percussion and concert band this has been a great year for our students and we’ll be ending this year with our spring concert May 2 and band banquet May 11."

Nathan Kilgo, Fairview High School Band

"I’m very proud of the group’s performance at our state performance assessment. This is a stressful event, but it is well worth it to see the students’ hard work pay off, and they definitely worked hard, putting in extra hours outside of our normal class time. 

“While we are proud of our scores, we know it’s more about the process of getting better as musicians, setting goals and striving for them, and getting feedback from other music professionals on things to continue to work on to improve."

Jesse James, Hanceville High School Band

"I'm so incredibly proud and blessed to be the director of this great group of kids. Through all of their hard work, they pushed through and performed their absolute best. It is just so incredible to watch them grow through music. It was a fantastic day!"

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