In the surplus of RBHS activities and classes that students can join, musical groups such as orchestra and band are some of the largest and most notable programs at school.
While any student can try out for RBHS musical programs, it takes skill and focus for each group to go into their respective competitions sounding fully fleshed out. Students must overcome the notes, chords and stanzas that come with any new sheet of music in order to better their band as a whole.
Josh Myers, assistant director of bands, acknowledges the high work ethic that students need to have in order to become a part of more advanced bands.
“District band has difficult and challenging audition music, which can really stimulate the growth of each student as musicians. That can lead to a better musician for our program as well,” Myers said. “Students need to have dedication and are very detail-oriented. The difference between making all-state band or not is minute details and making sure they get everything as precise as possible.”
Sophomore Roy Ford and junior Katy Miller, both members in the more exclusive bands at school, try to recognize the challenges that come with harder band programs. Ford, a drummer in jazz band, sees the new rhythms and music as the most time consuming obstacles.
“The greatest challenge, especially on drumset, is getting the feel of a song right,” Ford said. “In most modern music, which is usually controlled by a guy behind a panel, things are usually linear in terms of rhythm. In Jazz, there’s a flow you have to get used to, otherwise you sound like a wannabe.”
Despite the challenges of the free flow in jazz band percussion, Ford sees the individual spirit of the instrumentation as one of the highlights in performing. Songs such as “Sing, Sing, Sing” allow him to be front and center as the song revolves around a drum solo.
Miller also confronts challenges in her district band. The district band is not only more serious she says, but also has a more elaborate and intensive registration process. A five-minute performance of a packet given to participants determines whether or not students get the spot, Miller said. Her instrument, the trumpet, has about 60 competitors, but only 11 spots in the band.
“The hardest part of being in the district band is the three-hour rehearsal immediately following audition results where you have to work with the people who you were previously competing with for your spot,” Miller said. “Most of the time, the people around you are pretty nice and accept your chair placement. If you’re unlucky, you get seated by some people who are very upset about their placement, who can be very indignant.”
Band students experience trials and tribulations of many kinds. The string-filled orchestral classes of RBHS provide a more laid back experience, unless a student decides to try out for the All-State orchestra. Junior Ryan Choe is a part of the Missouri All-State orchestra, an ensemble that has some of the best high school talent in the state.
“I’ll never forget how impressed and astonished I was during my very first rehearsal,” Choe said. “The All-State orchestra is very exclusive. In order to get into the orchestra, you must go through a blind audition. The entire blind audition involves going to the Memorial Union building at the University of Missouri in the early morning. You audition for three judges and are separated by a screen.”
Choe enjoys the All-State orchestra for the incredible and ambitious players surrounding him. He is impressed by the focus of the front stands, who rush to take pages of notes during class. The intensity from rehearsing in the quiet rooms resonated with Ryan for the sheer intensity of the environment.
“I dream of Rock Bridge orchestra being like the All-State orchestra,” Choe said. “I just loved being a part of the All-State orchestras because of the immense talent, hard work, overall setting and new people I got to meet.”
To the students, an important aspect of orchestra and band is the music itself.
“Not all jazz is the stereotypical ‘old people music’ that people think it is,” Ford said. “Lots of it grooves harder than most of the music coming out today.”
Are you in band or orchestra? Let us know in the comments below.