Band students earn ‘Distinguished’ marks at District 5

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Fourteen students earned top ratings at the 2014 Kentucky Music Educators Association District 5 Solo and Ensemble Assessment in February.  

“Every individual and group that performed earned a ‘Distinguished’ rating, which is the highest possible,” said Scott Brawner, Carroll County High School band director.  “In order to earn the highest rating, the musicians must give an almost-flawless performance. This means correct rhythms, pitch and phrasing. The interpretation must also be strong.”

This is the first year that all of the musicians earned a top rating, and some earned more than one.

David Castellon performed a trombone solo.  Matt O’Neal, David Castellon and Quinton Carey performed a trio on tuba, euphonium and trombone. Victoria Bennett performed a tenor saxophone solo.  Asha Fernandez, Katelyn Wright, Kayla Meadows, Micah Wallace, Chris Sholdebrand, Shelby Rauck, Robert Chilton, Matt O’Neal and Michael Abrams performed as a percussion ensemble.  Shelby Rauck, Victoria Bennett, Micah Wallace, Quinton Carey and Michelle Moore performed two percussion ensemble pieces for steel drums.

All students in the band programs at Carroll County High School and Carroll County Middle School must practice a piece for solo and ensemble as part of their regular coursework; however, attending the competition is optional. 

Students must practice on their own time after school hours. Brawner and Kelly Hash, the middle school band director, provide coaching on an as-needed basis.

“The students really have to put in the work,” Brawner said. “Whether they are playing a solo or whether they are playing as an ensemble, it’s their piece.”

At solo and ensemble events, student musicians perform before judges who score the performance based on musical merit. 

“Getting a ‘Distinguished’ rating is a pretty big deal,” Hash said.  “The students are performing before judges, some of whom are professionals on their instruments. The pressure can be intense.”

Another solo and ensemble competition in April will give more middle school students a chance to compete.  Almost 90 middle school students will perform on instruments ranging from flute to tuba.

In addition to solo and ensemble competitions, the high school and middle school bands perform at sporting events as well as competitions for the full band, steel band and jazz band. 

“We stay pretty busy,” Brawner said.

The steel band will travel to Virginia Beach in May for the PANorama Caribbean Music Fest, which will feature more than 20 bands from the high school and college levels. 

While the musicians will enjoy the casual tone of the event, it will still be a competition.

“Some of the judges at PANorama are professional pan players,” Brawner said, referring to the steel band judges who play professionally in Trinidad.

Other upcoming events include a large ensemble performance assessment in March at Martha Layne Collins High School, where the band has earned a top rating for the past six years, as well as spring concerts for the community, the dates of which will be announced soon.

For more information on band programs and groups in the Carroll County School District, contact Scott Brawner at (502) 732-7075.


Carl Roberts is director of public relations for Carroll County Public Schools.