Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Festival Weekend

This past weekend was Festival Weekend, the time when the high school bands perform before adjudicators. There are three adjudicators that listen to your three prepared items in the concert hall. Parents and the public form the audience. One band moves off stage and minutes later the chairs are rearranged for the next band who five minutes later enters.

The exiting band goes off to a separate room where they perform a sight-reading item before another adjudicator. Before performing it the band has 10 minutes to look over the item and for the conductor to give directions to the band. No parents are in the room.

Each adjudicator gives a grade for 1 being high to 4. Depending upon the nature of the band, each is expected to perform at a particular grade level. For Oakton's top band, Symphonic Band, they play at a level VI which is college level music. Concert I plays at grade V and Concert II plays at grade IV.

As Josh plays in all three, he was busy Friday night with Concert II, Saturday morning with Concert I and Saturday afternoon with Symphonic. Four years ago Oakton was the first school in Virginia to have three bands achieve straight 1s in the same year. This year they achieved it again for the third time in four years. Musically and academically Oakton is one of the strongest schools in the area (ranked in the top 100 high schools in the nation by US News and World Report).

Unfortunately, the quality of their music and education program is going to decline over the next three years. The school board in its wisdom has taken a significant part of the Oakton catchment and assign it to another school. Why they would want to tamper with one of the strongest schools in their district and nation is beyond me (next election the current board will not get my vote). Within two years they will only have two bands and their top band will be a cross between the current Symphonic and Concert I.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

While I enjoy the non-competitive nature of the banding programme here (likely because I am not a competitive person myself) I really wish that the music programme in Matt and Spencer's school was stronger. Spencer has to seek outside oportunities in which to be challenged.