Music directors comment on students’ final preparations for regional contest


Caitlin Leiker

Sophomore Alisara Arial takes a few minutes to study her solo score in the hallway during seminar. The KSHSAA Regional Solo and Small Ensemble Festival will take place on March 6 at Barton Community College.

With contest season coming to a close in the music department, students are putting the final touches on their performances for the KSHSAA Regional Solo and Small Ensemble Festival that will take place at Barton Community College on April 6.

Band director Matt Rome said that he loved how the students have critically listened to famous recordings of their repertoire.

“They have taken ideas from professional recordings and used them to shape their own interpretations,” Rome said. “Not only are students playing solos on their instruments, which is no small task, but they are also learning musical artistry.”

Vocal director Alex Underwood said that he wished more of his singers knew the word for word translations of their foreign language pieces.

“I feel like everyone goes in thinking ‘This is a happy-sounding song, so I’m just going to sing it happily,’ and I really wish it were more specific from almost every single student,” Underwood said. “Other than that, I think that they’re really well-prepared. They’re singing more challenging repertoire than what they’d usually be singing, and that’s the most impressive thing.”

Orchestra director Joan Crull said that a common complaint among the students is trying to find the time to do it all. Rome described a plateauing that occurs in learning a new piece of music due to the students’ tight schedules.

“Initial progress is usually made in leaps and bounds, but to truly polish and detail a piece beyond notes and rhythms requires disciplined practice over many hours,” Rome said.

These are hours that music students say they don’t always have when it comes to balancing music with schoolwork, sports, and other involvements.

“Many of them are entered in multiple events for Saturday’s contest, so they are stretched pretty thin trying to get it all ready,” Crull said. “I’m very impressed at how well they’ve done working mostly on their own. About half of the string players do not take regular private lessons and have just been getting coached a little here and there by me or Nathan Mark, the other orchestra director,” Crull said.

Crull wishes everyone the best of luck, and she said to remember this piece of advice: “What’s important is not the rating you get at the end of your performance, but what you learned to get your performance ready.”