The Upper and Middle School bands received a plethora of accolades at large ensemble festivals this year for their melodious music. “The Upper School and Middle School bands have done a really fantastic job this year, and they've grown a lot,” says Assistant Band Director Katie Pyles.
In March, both bands participated in music festivals that included performances and feedback from a panel of judges. The Middle School band received the highest rating, Exemplary, at the Union Music Festival. Even more impressive, the Middle School band is mainly made up of sixth-grade students who only have one year of performing under their belt. Additionally, earlier in the year, five Middle School band students auditioned and were admitted to the St. Louis Metro District 8 Middle School Concert Band, a regional honor band.
Also in March, the Upper School band performed three pieces at the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) State Large Ensemble Festival hosted at Ritenour High School. The occasion marked the first time in 24 years that Principia has performed at this festival, earning an Outstanding—the second-highest rating. After receiving their scores, band members had the opportunity to work with the judges—all esteemed musicians and directors in the St. Louis area—allowing them to immediately learn from and incorporate the judges’ feedback.
Throughout the year, the students have had opportunities to expand their range of instruments. A handful of students chose to hone their skills on a second instrument to round out certain musical pieces during a jazz unit. Libby Brown and Mina Reihanifam, who typically play the flute, learned the saxophone; Jasdeep Steindorf-Singh, usually on the trombone, took up the tuba. Not only were students picking up new instruments, they were also learning to improvise and solo on those instruments—an incredible feat for young musicians. The students had a chance to show off their skills at the Middle School’s Band and Choir Concert and the Upper School’s Arts in Revue this spring.
Pyles looks forward to having even more instructional time for music built into the schedule next year. “I think we're heading towards a very bright future, so I'm excited for next year. There will be more class time to continue the exponential growth they've had this year.”