April 19, 2024

WMS student-musicians preparing for annual band and orchestra trip

By Jolene Bailey

Windham Middle School will once again be sending student musicians on a band and orchestra trip to attend the Trills & Thrills Music Festival at Canobie Lake Park in Salem, New Hampshire on June 7.

About 55 Windham Middle School students, including all
the orchestra and band members, will be performing at the
Trills & Thrills Music Festival at Canobie Lake Park in
New Hampshire on June 7. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Two WMS musical ensembles for band and orchestra will perform at the festival. The festival’s judges, who are typically college music professors, listen to two pieces of music from each ensemble. The judges will then provide written and audio-recorded feedback.

Participating students will take away several things from this trip such as constructive criticism to help them improve, receive positive feedback about their strengths, and a sense of accomplishment as they will receive a rating from the judges.

WMS students will experience preparing musical selections for the festival and performing for judges, while competing against other middle school music students from Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. After their performance, they will also obtain specific feedback from their judges in the spirit of improving techniques as ensembles and listening to others.

Participating students also will receive a rating of bronze, silver, gold, or platinum along with a plaque to represent their performance level. Over the last nine years of attending the festival, band and orchestra students from WMS have earned gold ratings every year.

“We have participated in festivals similar to this annually as a school for many, many years,” said Morgan Riley, WMS band and orchestra teacher. “The oldest plaque we have is from the 1990s.”

Within the practice time available before the event, Riley said that the student-musicians are rehearsing with dedication and motivation to try and achieve the highest score possible at the festival.

“We started rehearsing festival pieces for each group in January,” Riley said. “We have been working on the basics, notes, rhythms and articulations, and are now getting to the details of dynamics and the other parts that add the frosting. These students are incredibly hard-working and show perseverance in every class.”

According to Riley, the festival creates an environment where students feel comfortable and free to express themselves. Participating in festivals like this one can help make performers work harder when engaging and pushing to create the best of their performances, she said.

In all about 55 WMS students, including all the orchestra and band members, will be able to participate in the festival trip.

“We'd like to thank the generous community members who came to our Mattress Fundraiser last fall as well as those who purchased socks to support us,” Riley said. “Between the fundraising and a local grant, we have raised more than enough funds to fully pay for the trip.”

During the festival, the WMS seventh- and eighth-grade band will perform "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" by John Williams and arranged by Robert Longfield and "Sousa Times Twosa,", a medley by the American March King John Phillip Sousa and arranged by Robert W. Smith and Michael Story. The WMS seventh- and eighth-grade orchestra will perform a dramatic original piece, "Beyond the Thunder" by Deborah Baker Monday, and "Big Rock Candy Mountain," a traditional bluegrass tune arranged by Jeffrey Frizzi. <

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