Thursday, July 5, 2012
Galena Middle School band students go to Dixie Band Camp
By REGGIE S. DAVIS
For the second year in a row, the Galena Middle School Marching Band was taken out of their familiar surroundings and placed in a “woodwind” of musical chairs.
The Dixie Band Camp is an annual, week-long, competitive band music exhibition event sponsored by the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Ark. The program accepts entrants from around the country who apply for the summer camp-styled stay. Held the third week in June, this year’s camp ran from June 17-22 and had over 900 participants from around the South. Galena Middle School had significant improvements when compared to last year’s overall performance scores – a marked achievement considering the infancy of Galena’s music program. Some students even bested more seasoned musicians from other states who had been competing for years.
Shun Bradley, a ninth grade baritone horn player and recipient of Galena’s coveted “Band Director’s Award,” took home high honors for his solo part in the piece “The Great Locomotive Chase” by Robert W. Smith. The piece is noted for its complex arrangement and considered one of the more difficult pieces even for higher level musicians.
Bradley’s skillful playing earned him a ranking position of second band first chair, an impressive feat considering this was his first time competing.
While Bradley showcased a sample of the dynamic talent Mississippi students have to offer, novice Tommy Jackson Jr., a sixth grader from Baton Rouge, La., left the camp with a different prize.
Jackson, who gained his musical experience first hand from the cool, jazz street musicians in his home state, left the camp with a comprehensive ability to read sheet music – a skill that every musician should have. Jackson’s cousin, Leroy Lewis, an eighth grader at Galena, placed second band fourth chair.
Marco Wilson, band director at Galena Middle School, took 17 students on the retreat – six of whom participated in 2011. Three students – JaBrisha Falkner (seventh grade), Shakali Falkner and ShaQuish Young (eighth grade) earned higher rankings this year and found more time to focus on some of the social opportunities the camp provided. The students had a chance to unwind through tons of summer fun during their activity periods including water parks, karaoke, movies, and even formal dances.
Keshun Falkner, a seventh grade bass clarinet player from Holly Springs, gained a new insight on the level of dedication that is required to become a superior musician. During his exit interview, Falkner pointed out that for the first time he was able to see how serious other young musicians were from other schools.
For Galena’s students, the band camp experience is rooted in nurturing a student’s skills and transforming a student into a competent musician. Dixie Band Camp is designed to advance students’ skill set by up to four months. Every year, colleges and universities offer scholarship monies to students who perform exceptionally well.
Constantly being drilled on music content and technique, the Galena Middle School Band was able to bring their advances with them into their 2011-12 school year. This year, with an attention to superior placement, the mini-musicians will go into the school year looking ahead to summer 2013 where they can show their practical progress at next year’s camp.
It should be taken into consideration that the undertaking is huge of ensuring that all students’ registration fees, instruments, and room and board are paid for in a timely manner. It was a community effort with partners like – Walmart and all of the Walmart customers who have donated to the Galena Band, the owners of the Foxfire Ranch, the Saxophone Place of Tupelo, Chulahoma M.B. Church, Ark of Safety Outreach Ministries, Mrs. Samantha Morris, Mrs. Jane Farris, Mrs. Helen Mason, Mrs. Angela Mays, and Mr. Roosevelt and Renatta Falkner. Special thanks to – Mrs. Dorothy Wilson, Mrs. Shirley Powell, the Galena Band Boosters, bus driver Mr. Rodney Elliott, Galena School principal Mr. Andrae Sims, the Marshall County School Board and superintendent Mr. Jerry Moore.
Wilson plans on continuing this legacy of excellence by competing annually in the event. If interested in securing copies of the concert performances, making a donation, or becoming a sponsor to the Galena Middle School Band, please contact Galena School at (662) 564-2229 or Ms. Dorothy Wilson, Band Booster president, at (662) 564-1559.
Galena Band students’ audition scores at Dixie Band Camp are – euphoniumist Shun Bradley, second band, first chair; trombonist Leroy Lewis, second band, fourth chair; bass clarinettist Keshun Falkner, third band, second chair; clarinettist Shakali Falkner, fifth band, fourth chair; trumpeter Ladarrius Avant, seventh band, ninth chair; saxophonist ShaQuish Young, seventh band, seventh chair; percussionist Zavier Guy, eighth band, fifth chair; flutist JaBrisha Falkner, eighth band, third chair; clarinettist Briana Young, eighth band, seventh chair; trumpeter Demarcus Stewart, eighth band, third chair; trombonist LeMarcus Bradley, eighth band, eighth chair; flutist Elizabeth Edwards, ninth band, third chair; percussionist DeAndre Martin, ninth band, third chair; saxophonist Terrance Brigance, ninth band, sixth chair; saxophonist Tommy Jackson, 10th band, seventh chair; percussionist Cadarian Turnage, 10th band, first chair; and percussionist Danzel Guy, 10th band, fourth chair.
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