Band students prepare for online festival


Emma Kingler

Sophomore Trever Tilton, juniors Casey O’Donnell and Ollie Kellogg, sophomore Ryan Lange and senior Emily Kresin rehearse their piece in the Black Box Theatre on March 1 for their upcoming ensemble performance.

Emma Klingler, Staff Reporter

Along with the theme of changes this school year, the De Soto High School band is facing some challenges in preparation for their annual solo and ensemble festival. 

In prior years, the band students were able to meet with their ensemble daily in Seminar to practice their pieces. With the omission of traditional Seminar in the 2020-21 school year, it has been somewhat difficult for students to get the necessary amount of preparation done for their performance in March.

“We have some people who are online, so we don’t know how they’re doing,” junior Alison Roy said.

The DHS band directors Matt Bradford and Philip Kaul have done their best to allow their students to practice together as much as possible. As there are other students in the band room during Seminar, the spaces in which people can practice are limited.

“We’ve had to get creative with using spaces that are big enough for ensembles to rehearse safely,” Kaul said. “It’s definitely been a challenge to find enough space for people to rehearse safely for those who want to do so.”

On White days there are no teachers in the band room at all, resulting in a different teacher having to supervise the students.

In addition to this difficulty, the students do not have as much time as they normally would before their performance. Some students are still even waiting for their pieces to arrive in the mail if they had to order a new one. Others are reusing the piece they would have played last year had it not been canceled.

“I feel very rushed because since I am new to wind ensemble this year, I’m learning a completely new piece,” Roy said.

In previous years, students would go to an area high school for their Regional performance. This included playing in front of a judge and later receiving a score ranging from 1-5, with 1 being the highest. 

This year, however, students will be recording a video of themselves playing their piece and submitting it virtually. This change may ease the nerves of some who get anxious playing for a judge in-person. They have the option to record a new video and use the best one, when normally they would only get one chance during their performance.

“I don’t play well in front of judges, so I think I will sound better in a video,” Roy said.

Others are not excited about the recording process.

“With a recording, we could record 10 times and still not be completely satisfied with the result,” senior Emily Kresin said.

Not only are the students participating in ensembles being affected by changes in the festival – those playing a solo are, too. 

Those performing a solo have less options for their required piano accompaniment. The accompanists also have less time to prepare the pieces, and many of them have multiple that they need to learn for several students.

Despite the changes in format and preparation for this year’s solo and ensemble festival, the DHS band students are still looking forward to carrying on with tradition and improving their skills as musicians.