North Royalton Crescendos in Spirit as the Band Heads Off to OMEA Large Group Adjudicated Event

By: Dakotah Allen and Allison Liptak

Pictures: Jordan Dennis

The North Royalton Band is heading off to the start of adjudicated events on March 4, 2016. North Royalton High School is one of the few schools in Ohio who take four bands to adjudicated events. The four bands are Freshman Band, Concert Band, Symphonic Band, and Wind Ensemble. Each of the four bands at the high school starts to prepare for contests three months in advance. Each band has three songs to play that will be judged by a panel of adjudicators and will be given a rating along with written comments and feedback. There is an evaluation on tone, tuning, and sight reading (which is new to the freshmen).

Marching Band at away football game

Marching Band at away football game

Mr. Vitale teaches the Freshman Band and Wind Ensemble. He picked pieces for both bands which he felt would be the best fit for that specific band based on a list of songs that the directors were given to choose from. Mr. Vitale wanted to choose pieces that would challenge both bands but which would also still give them an opportunity to be successful. He said that OMEA adjudicated events are an exciting time of the year. Mr. Vitale feels that the bands need to work on building a good skill set to achieve the highest possible ratings in all of the different areas of judging.

In order to achieve the goal of getting a superior rating, the bands need to perfect both their individual and ensemble playing skills of good tone quality, correct rhythms, and correct notes. All of this must be achieved in a short period of time, which involves a lot of time management. However, Mr. Vitale is confident that the bands have a good routine in place to prepare for the contest. Mr. Vitale said that the band’s success depends on whether the students are willing to put in the hard work necessary to succeed. Mr. Vitale hopes that the students will work hard enough and try their best to bring home a superior rating from contest. Seeing as it is the Freshman Band’s first time sight reading, he hopes that the extra practice will help the freshmen in this portion of the adjudicated event. Mr. Vitale is working hard with both the Freshman Band and Wind Ensemble to prepare for the upcoming OMEA adjudicated event.

Mr. Burdick teaches the Symphonic Band. Mr. Burdick told us that he picked his pieces after conducting research on the personality of the band, the performance strength of the band, and what the different sections of the band are capable of doing well. He used the auditions of the students (which was used to place students into one of the four bands) to determine what songs to use in competition. The student auditions also showed the directors what the students’ abilities were, what they were good at, and what they could use more practice in. Also, the holiday concert helped him understand the strengths and weaknesses of the Symphonic Band. The three songs that he chose for this band were “Thrive” for their social personality, “Lord of Greenwich” for their strong trombone section, and “Al Capitan” as their classic march. Mr. Burdick told us that performing at West Lake will be a challenge because of the echo in the auditorium (a lot of reverberations or extra echos the students aren’t used to performing in) and gym, where the bands will perform. As a result of this, the Symphonic Band is working on making timings and entrances more exact, so that they don’t confuse the timing. Mr. Burdick hopes that with practice the students will feel less nervous. He feels that, overall, the most important thing is to start rehearsal well. During rehearsal, some of the things the band works on are refining the style of the music they play, trying to get closer to the song’s actual tempo, and fixing the transitions from one tempo to another. The band needs to work on not overplaying, but that is an easier problem to fix than underplaying. The low brass has good air support and the band has a nice core sound.

Mr. Nary teaches the Concert Band. He chose songs that he not only felt would showcase the Concert Band’s strengths, but what he felt the students would enjoy playing as well. He is hoping that the band will put their best foot forward, and that they won’t make any mistakes that they have already been working to fix in class. He hopes that the comments they receive from the judges will help them improve as a band.  He thinks that they will play to their best ability and think about what they are doing. His goals for this contest are to qualify for the State competition, and get a superior rating. Mr. Nary told us that his overall goal is to one day receive straight ones in a contest. Mr. Nary said that he is sure that the students will do their best in the upcoming competition.

Next we interviewed band students about how they felt about contests. First, we interviewed Matthew Casey, who is a ninth grade saxophone player in the Freshman Band. He is nervous that the Freshman Band won’t be able to fix everything in time for the contest. However, he is confident that the band will do their best. Casey says the band needs more focus in order to do well in contest. Despite his nervousness and the fact that he feels the band needs work, he knows that the band has the ability to earn a superior rating. He is positive that the Freshman Band is going to give everything they have to the sight reading portion. Casey hopes to come out of the contest with everyone “feeling more unified as a band.” We then interviewed Keren Kuragayala, who is a ninth-grade flute player in the Freshman Band. She feels that certain sections still need work, but in her opinion “flutes are the best.” She says she is nervous that “We may mess up.” However, she is confident about the woodwind section. Kuragayala told us that she is hoping that the Freshman Band will leave contest with a two or above, but hopefully a one. The last Freshman we interviewed was Bianca Karaba, who plays clarinet in the Freshman Band. She feels that the extra practice Mr. Vitale gives us will help tremendously. She is confident that all the hard work the band has done will pay off in the long run. Karaba is nervous that certain sections need a little extra help, but overall the band will do fine.

Next we interviewed Jordan Dennis. He is an eleventh grader who plays trumpet in Concert Band. He told us that he is a little nervous for the OMEA adjudicated event because it is his first year in band. However, he says, “I am confident in my band. We’re going to do well.” Dennis feels that the Concert Band is going to do okay during the sight reading section of the contest.

After interviewing Jordan Dennis, we interviewed someone from the Symphonic Band. John Amato is a senior who plays trumpet in the band. He feels confident about the OMEA adjudicated event. He hopes his band is going to do well and get a superior rating. Amato is a little nervous about the sight reading portion; however, he says he is used to it, and it is not too bad.

The last person we talked to was Jaimie Pheneger. She is a senior who plays the french horn in the Wind Ensemble. She is feeling excited and hopeful for the upcoming contest. Pheneger said she is a little nervous about her personal performance. She told us that she is comfortable with the sight reading portion of the contest because she has been doing contests for four years. Pheneger is hoping for the Wind Ensemble to come out of the contest with good spirits and a superior rating. She knows that the band is going to have a good performance.

Not a lot of high schools send four bands to OMEA adjudicated events (or have four bands to begin with). Mr. Vitale said that having four bands is a “nice attribute to be proud of.” He is proud that North Royalton has such a large, successful music program. All four bands have a lot of work to do if they want to do well in the upcoming OMEA adjudicated event, but with some hard work and dedication, they can crescendo straight up to a superior rating and a superior feeling.