Watkins Mill musicians participate in District II Festival
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Musicians from Watkins Mill High School performed in the Montgomery County District II Festival at Quince Orchard High School on February 9 and Walt Whitman High School on February 16.
WMHS has participated every year since the instrumental music program began. The festival gives our musicians a chance to receive feedback from experienced judges and improve their musical skill.
Musicians in the band and orchestra spent several months preparing music they would present to the judges. The last months have been spent on polishing up the music. “I spent hours on end practicing,” sophomore pianist Christian Boyd said.
High school bands and orchestras from across the county participated in the festival, the festival was held on different days for different ensembles. Orchestras participated on February 9 at Quince Orchard, while bands participated on February 16 at Whitman. The festival is a “great way to listen to what we need to work on,” freshman violist Catherine Escobar said.
First the groups performed their pieces, than the players participated in a sight-reading clinic. During the clinic, they are given music that they have not prepared to play in front of the judges. The festival “was a little bit nerve wracking, but in the end it was all worth it,” freshman violinist Nadia Makmak said.
Performance and sight-reading have individual rubrics judges use to determine a category score. Rubrics incorporate musicality, technical accuracy, and musical effect. Each category receives a grade, one through five (one: exemplary, five: needs improvement). “They are giving us different ways that we can improve as an ensemble,” sophomore violinist Jwoyal Ranjit said.
Category grades are taken into account when judges calculate an overall score of one through five (One: flawless, five: needs improvement). Band and Orchestra both received an overall score of three in performance and sight-reading. “We did well, but there could be room for improvement,” Boyd added.
Most performances by the WMHS band and orchestra are for friends and family at school concerts or events. The festival is the one opportunity where the groups get feedback from a third-party. In this case, an experienced judge. “It’s an opportunity to get comments from someone else,” instrumental music director Peter Kielar said. “This is an educational experience for our students.”