Howell’s bands are recognized at local festival


Megan Killop, Business Manager

Howell’s band program had a stellar weekend at Walled Lake Northern’s band festival Saturday, March 14, against their district 4 competitors. The three bands that competed were Concert, Symphonic, and Wind Ensemble. Since December, the bands have been assembling, in and out of school, to perfect their performances. There is only one festival a year, so the past few months for band students are important and slightly stressful.

The students complete three pieces of music for a set of judges, and are given one shot to perform their best. Not only must they play their best prepared songs, they are also given the challenge of sight reading. This means that they are shown a piece of music they have never seen before and must play it after 4-5 minutes for further judging.

They are then ranked one to five, with a score of one being the best. Each band competed in a different class: Concert Band received two 1’s and two 2’s, Symphonic earned four 2’s, and Wind Ensemble swept the judges away with four 1’s.

“This is the one time our program gets measured against others [in our community], and it shows how the program is healthy,” band director and teacher, Mr. Jason Smigell says.

Troy VanValkenburgh, who plays alto saxaphone in the Symphonic band, would describe band festival as “similar to a sports competition or meet.” Different local high school bands come together to receive criticism from experienced judges. It benefits the band students by helping them to enhance and polish their music.

“We go to get feedback on what we can improve upon, and what we need to focus on,” VanValkenburgh says.

This festival is the one time a year that the band students get to show off the hard-work they have been summoning throughout the year.

“I’m really happy with our scores, we really deserved it. We’ve been working hard the last few weeks,” Brenden Sanders, who is a member of the Wind Ensemble and plays bass clarinet, says.

Mr. Smigell agrees that the students played their prime for the judges.

“They all reached their full potential at the right time, and they played as well as they can,” Mr. Smigell says.