junior high band students before UIL Competition

While QHS’s Proud Blue Band has been busy earning their first Sweepstakes distinction in 30 years, the junior high has been busy earning their own awards. Band directors across the area recently nominated junior high students to represent their schools in the Northeast Texas Honor Band. Several students from Quitman were nominated and attended the clinic and concert performance on Saturday, March 26th.

When our students arrived in Paris that morning, they were divided into one of four bands. They immediately began rehearsing and continued for about four hours until lunch. Then they came back for another afternoon rehearsal that lasted over 3 hours. Our students were given the music the week of the event in order to do a little prep work, but they learned a majority of their music that day on-site.

Assistant band director Darren Castilaw said that our students access to the music a little early so that students “were a little more comfortable when they got there.” Castilaw said that they wanted the kids to focus less on stressing out over learning brand new music and spend more time focusing on learning to take direction from different directors. Castilaw said that he and the other directors also wanted the students to make connections with students from across the region and learn how to work with them.

Castilaw was quick to relay praise the QJH students received from other directors. “A couple of other band directors didn’t know our kids’ names, but they specifically described some of the Quitman kids and talked about how well behaved they were and how good of a job they did learning and performing their music.”

Assistant Band Director Chace LeBlanc was also proud of the students and their adaptability and flexibility at the event. “It’s an experience they’ve never had; learning a piece of music so quickly.” Leblanc further explained, “It put (students) in a situation where they had to think on the fly, thinking quickly and problem solving. It pushed them out of their comfort zone.”  LeBlanc also spoke about the effect the day had on some students, mentioning how some students had previously been somewhat interested in band, but are now “sitting up a little straighter in class” and “paying closer attention.”

After the Northeast Texas Honor Band event, junior high students settled back into routine, getting ready for their UIL Solo & Ensemble contest which was held April 1st in Gilmer. The band received the highest rating of a “1” in the Sight Reading portion of the competition.  Next up for the band is an invitational solo & ensemble-style contest in Winnsboro on Tuesday, April 26. 

The Junior High band will also take part in the “SoundPost Music Festival” competition at Splash Kingdom on May 17th. Students will perform at Canton High School and then have the rest of the day to enjoy at Splash Kingdom.  Both beginner and junior high bands will attend and perform.

If you like to catch the band in action at home, you will have the opportunity to do so soon. On Monday, April 25th, at 6 p.m., all percussion students from grades 6-12 will be performing. Then on May 12th, at 7 p.m. all bands will perform at the annual spring concert in the high school auditorium.

(Photos courtesy Assistant Director Chace LeBlanc)