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Iroquois County Bands Friday, October 20, 2017

Iroquois County Bands

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Watseka Iroquois West Central Milford Cissna Park Donovan A special supplement to the Times-Republic

October 2017


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Iroquois County Bands

Friday, October 20, 2017

Donovan

Photo by Wendy Davis The Donovan band is comprised of junior high and high school students.

37 students work well together By WENDY DAVIS, Reporter wdavis@intranix.com

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he Donovan school district has combined its junior and senior high school’s band, taking the total number of students to 37. There’s 21 instrumentalists from junior high and 16 at the senior high levels. “The most challenging part of band this year is balancing and blending each section of the entire band. Some sections are much larger than others, so it makes the students really focus on how they play and how they sound,” said music teacher Kelly Gifford. “The 37 students work very well together though and make everyone feel as important as everyone else in the band. We all together have 37 fantastic junior high and high school band members that make up our small but mighty Donovan band,” she said. “The students are really working hard this year. They want to play new and challenging music, so they push themselves better every day,” Gifford said. The first concert will be Nov. 28, but pep band will begin soon. “The students have been preparing for their favorite part of the year. Hopefully, the community will hear some new songs this year.” She said she’s excited for what they year’s expected to bring to her class, making it another enjoyable year teaching at Donovan. “It’s a joy to come in every day to watch and listen to these students. They grow more musically every day, and you can really tell they love to play, especially my 10 percussionists.”

“It’s a joy to come in every day to watch and listen to these students. They grow more musically every day, and you can really tell they love to play, especially my 10 percussionists.” — Kelly Gifford, Donovan band director

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Friday, October 20, 2017

Iroquois County Bands

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Iroquois West Photo by Wendy Davis The Iroquois West High School band gets ready to perform at the recent fall concert.

IW schools offer wide variety of band opportunities By CARLA WATERS, Managing Editor cwaters@intranix.com

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roquois West schools offer a wide variety of band opportunities. Band Director Steven Kurk works with students in fifth grade through high school age each week. There are 35 fifth-grade, 40 sixth-grade, 50 seventhand-eighth-grade and 65 high school band members. The marching band has been performing at high school football games this football season. The high school and junior high bands have a jazz band that perform during the school year. The marching band rehearses before school, Kurk said. “We work at leaest two times a week before school,” he said. The high school band will change to concert band after the football season is over. “We have eight or nine football players in concert band,” he said, “so we start off with concert band right after that (football season).” That doesn’t keep the bands from working on music. The bands, along with the choirs, just completed a fall concert on Oct. 15. The bands and choirs will be traveling to New York City for their spring trip this year. The full concert band is working on some music that goes along with the New York City theme. Some of the songs the bands are working on have a Broadwaythemed feel. “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from Mary Poppins is one of the songs being practiced. The musicians are also working on songs from “Little Shop of Horrors’ and a medley from “Phantom of the Opera”. Kurk works with the bands on a variety of music, including Christmas music which will be performed at the Christmas concert Dec. 10. There will also be a spring concert April 30. A big fundraiser for the bands is Jingle Bell Swing, which is set for Dec. 2. That event will feature the jazz bands and help the students raise money for the New York trip. Kurk said he is proud of the students and the hard work they put in to each band. The marching band shows up and works from 7-7:45 a.m., for example, something he thinks takes a lot of dedication. At the high school level, there is a Tri-M music honor society, which honors the kids for their hard work. “They do a long of things outside of school hours,” he said. Some of the students work with the younger students. The fourth grade students are just testing and starting to select the instrument they want to learn. The older

Band Director Steven Kurk enjoys seeing the students grow in their skills. Music education, he said, helps them to learn how to work as a large group and also how to work toward a common goal.

students help with that. Kurk enjoys seeing the students grow in their skills. Music education, he said, helps them to learn how to work as a large group and also how to work toward a common goal. The community is very supportive, he said, as are the boosters. The Nov. 4 craft show fundraiser is always well attended. The spring trip to New York City will be March 21-25.

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Other years the band and choir take a smaller trip. Last year it was to St. Louis. This year the band will go to West Point and perform. They will attend a Broadway show and get to sightsee before heading back home. He said the students, if they stick with band all four years of high school, will end up going on two big trips and two smaller trips, giving them the opportunity to experience different parts of the United States.

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Iroquois County Bands

Friday, October 20, 2017

Milford

Photo by Wendy Davis Milford high school band students have a new facility to learn in this year.

Milford band continues to grow By CARLA WATERS, Managing Editor cwaters@intranix.com

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new school with new band rooms has been a wonderful gift in Milford. Band Director Sandy Hamende is super excited about the new band rooms. The district has put a lot of money into the new high school building and the students are reaping the rewards, she said. The band program now has rooms to rehearse in. There’s an elementary room

and a high school room and two practice rooms. “It’s wonderful,” Hamende said with a big smile. “We’ve got room to do stuff.” With that in mind, she said, the program will continue to grow. There are 15 students in the high school band. This band has performed as a pep band for the high school football games. The high school band will also perform a winter concert toward the end of November. Another concert is planned for spring,

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which is also the time when the band will take part in the organizational contest. Hamende also prepares the band students for participation in local parades. The band is working on its concert music for performances later this year. At the junior high level, there are about 20 students participating. They have started working on their music and are honing their skills on their instruments. Music and the arts are vital parts of a child’s education, she said. “It engages the

right side of the brain,” she said. “Music is a wonderful way to have fun and express yourself.” Hamende works with the bands in the mornings at the high school and the last 20 minutes of the day at the junior high. She is all smiles about the new band rooms and the bright future she sees for the Milford program. “The new facility is wonderful and we are looking forward to an enjoyable year,” she said.

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Friday, October 20, 2017

Iroquois County Bands

Cissna Park

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Cissna Park bands focus on basics in music education By CARLA WATERS, Managing Editor cwaters@intranix.com

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ocusing on basics is an important part of band education at Cissna Park schools. Band Director Angela Napolitano teachers fifthgrade through high school students how to be the best band students they can be. While the bands may be small in number, they do not lack the drive and determination it takes to be musicians, she noted. There are six in the fifth-grade band this year. The junior high has 20 members and the high school has 12 members. “We work on things as a team,” Napolitano said. The high school band works on pep band music and music for the upcoming holiday concert. The junior high band is working on basic skills and is starting to build it’s music repertoire. Napolitano is a firm believer in the importance of music education. “Every subject in school can be applied,” she said. “Music is math, science, reading, everything.” She said music teaches students about working with each other and working toward a goal. The lessons learned through music education, she said, are those “that can be applied to your whole life.” Through learning different genres of music, students learn about the world, she said. Plus, she said, “music makes you feel good.” Students also learn how to be good citizens in their communities. Napolitano is also the choir director at the school, so the band and choir rotate days to meet. The fifth grade band gets worked into the mix as well. The first concert for the bands is Dec. 3 for the holiday concert. There will also be a spring concert.

Photo contributed Cissna Park high school band students continue to work hard and learn new skills, said band director Angela Napolitano.

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Iroquois County Bands

Friday, October 20, 2017

Central

Photo contributed The Central High School band is preparing for a trip to New York City this school year.

CHS bands take music education seriously By CARLA WATERS, Managing Editor cwaters@intranix.com

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his is a big year for the Central High School Band. The group, along with the school’s choir members, will be spending time at Disney World in March. The group leaves March 24 and will spend six days on the trip. “We don’t know where we’ll be performing yet,” said band director Martin Kohn. That part of the itinerary won’t be completed until January. Until then, the band is working on songs for that performance. While at Disney World, the band will perform for 25 minutes. “We are getting that music prepared,” he said, “so everything we are doing is leading up to that point.” The band has a halftime show it performs as a marching band during football games. The music for that show has elements of the music for the Disney perfor-

mance, he said. The band is comprised of 59 students for concert band. With the color guard and all for marching band the number is at 65 members. The band members don’t take much time off from the previous school year. Kohn said the marching band began with rehearsals starting in the summer. “We had an early July parade in Clifton,” he said. From there, the band had several summer marching band rehearsals. Central’s marching band is not a competitive one, but they take their performances seriously. And they started off right away performing for audiences. “The first two weeks of school we had home games,” Kohn said. The band will be performing at all playoff games as a pep band in the stands. “We will continue to support the football team as long as we can,” he said. The band is also practicing for it’s Nov. 7 concert. Soon after — Nov. 28 — the pep band will have it’s first performance for basket-

ball season. “We are definitely a performance group,” Kohn said. He credits the students on their work ethic. Students are busy, he said, and many activities take up their time. “They are doing a great job,” he said. Kohn, too, is busy. “I’m in charge of the 5-12 program,” he said. There is a fifth-grade band and a sixthseventh-and-eighth grade band. At the Nov. 7 concert, all the bands will perform. As a director, he said, he tries to look at the younger players and mold them into players for the high school. That means teaching them the fundamentals and instilling a love of the music. He also looks at what the needs of the band will be longterm and tries to fill in the holes accordingly. By getting the fifth-graders ready for the sixth-seventh-and-eighth grade band, he can also work on getting the eighth-graders ready to be successful in the high school.

He likened it to coaching. He said coaches look to the younger players and seek out students at that level who have the skills that are needed for later teams. Kohn is proud of his band students. “It’s a good group of kids,” he said. “They work very hard. And we get good support from parents, administration and community members.” Rounding out the year, the band will perform at solo and ensemble contest and the band will perform at organizational contest in the spring. The bands’ spring concert is April 9. Another big event for the bands is the Night On the Town event, which is a show choir and jazz band event at the end of the year. This year it will be May 19-20. Jazz band members will get started learning their music in January. While that band performs at some events, its main focus is the Night on the Town event. “We try to start as early as we can (with the music,” he said.

“It’s a good group of kids. They work very hard. And we get good support from parents, administration and community members.” — Martin Kohn, Central High School Band Director

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Friday, October 20, 2017

Iroquois County Bands

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Watseka

Photo contributed The Marching Warriors have had a winning marching band competition season. The marching band is one of several opportunities for students in the Unit 9 School District.

Variety of opportunities avaiilable in Unit 9 band program By CARLA WATERS, Managing Editor cwaters@intranix.com

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he Watseka Marching Band is doing well this sea-

son. The band has brought home trophies every marching band competition so far this year. Erik Parmenter is the director of the band program for Unit 9, and notes that as strong as the marching band program is, it is just one aspect of the program. In all, the program has several elements. There are 30 members in the fifth grade band and another 30 in the sixth grade band. The seventh-and-eighth grade band has 40 members while the high school has 60 members. There is a jazz band that has between 15 and 20 members at the high school level. That group will get started at the end of October. The high school band starts with a marching band season in July, when the musicians start to learn their songs and the routine. This year the marching band is attending five competitions. Throughout the football season the marching band

also performs halftime shows of home games. Once marching season ends, the band picks up right away with concert band at the high school. The high school also has a jazz band that starts in October. The pep band is another key element of the program, performing at home basketball games. “They are all very strong groups,” he said. The junior high band starts working on its songs at the beginning of the school year. The seventh-and eighth-grade band performs at one football game. The other bands’ first performances are the Christmas concert. Parmenter said the Christmas concerts are at 6 p.m. Dec. 11 for the junior high concert. The high school Christmas program is at 7 p.m. Dec. 12. The bands will perform at spring programs, too. The high school concert is at 7 p.m. May 8 and the junior high performance is at 6 p.m. May 15. Parmenter said he takes students to solo and ensemble contest, which this school year is March 24. The band will perform at the organizational contest, which is April 14. Parmenter takes his love and music and passes it on to his students. That starts early, with fifth graders learning their instru-

ments and the basics of music. From there, he said, he continues instilling that love of music in the students and increases the level of difficulty in the music as the students progress in honing their skills. He works with the fifth graders about one time a week in group lessons. Later in the year they start with full band rehearsals. From sixth grade and on, Parmenter sees every other day and then one time a week and also individually for a lesson. “We try to pick challenging music for them,” he said. All sixth-grade through eighth-grade students take part in solo and ensemble contest. “This gets them performing as one or in a small group,” he said. Getting the students used to performing for an audience is important to their growth, he said. Obviously, he’s a great believer in music education. “It teaches them teamwork, cooperation, independence and responsibility,” he said. The students work well together and individually, he said. Music gives the students a place to be successful, which he feels is crucial to their learning.

“It teaches them teamwork, cooperation, independence and responsibility.” — Unit 9 Band Director Erik Parmenter on music education

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