Sunday, May 26, 2024

Azle bands blast through UIL competition

Azle Junior High bands receive superior and excellent ratings

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AZLE, KELLER— The North Zone Region 30 University Interscholastic League (UIL) Concert and Sight-Reading Contest was March 26-27 in Keller ISD.

The Azle Junior High Symphonic Band competed March 26. The symphonic band is the school’s “non-varsity” band and is under the direction of Courtnie Smith. The band received 2s from all three judges on stage, which is the concert portion of the competition. Twos are considered an “Excellent” rating according to UIL standards.

From the stage the band went to the sight-reading room where members were handed a piece of music they had never seen. They were given seven minutes to be taught by Smith, who is a first-year teacher. In the sight-reading room, they received straight 1s from a set of three different judges. Ones are considered “Superior” and the very best rating a band can receive from judges.

This was the first year in school history the AJH Symphonic Band attended this contest as well as Smith’s first time taking a band to UIL.

Director Kevin Chapman said it is rare that any “non-varsity band” ever receives superior ratings. The following day, March 27, the varsity band, called the Wind Ensemble, competed at UIL under the direction of Chapman.

The Wind Ensemble received scores of 1 from all three judges in the concert portion of the contest. From there, just like the Symphonic Band, they went to the sight-reading room where they were given seven minutes to learn a new piece of music. The Wind Ensemble received straight 1s from the next set of three judges leading to a “Superior” rating across the board. Receiving 1s from all six judges in the concert and sightreading portions of the contest means that the students earned a Sweepstakes.

“Mr. Chapman and Ms. Smith both work with both bands together as a team to help our students accomplish their goals and to continue a tradition of excellence that has been set for years now. We are both so very proud of the work our students put in, proud of our school, and proud of our community,” Chapman said in a statement. “Band is a family, we go through so much together, we see each other day in and out. The kids feel a part of something together. We don’t all have to be best friends, but we do need to work together and hold each other accountable to achieve our very highest level of success.”

After looking at the final results, directors saw that AJH Wind Ensemble was one of very few that received this rating outside of Keller schools. This is the fourth UIL contest in a row in which the AJH Wind Ensemble has received the superior rating and sweepstakes.

Chapman reports that one of the monitors in Keller praised Azle’s parental support, stating it had the most support from families that day compared to other schools. The school even had to bring extra chairs into the sight-reading room so Azle families to watch.

“The students had very focused rehearsals for weeks, a rarity in today’s world for students this age,” Chapman’s statement continued. “The day of the contest, the students were told that when they get on those buses, it is a business trip and that they must remain focused and quiet on the ride there. Once they got off the buses, there was no yelling or confusion, only focus. These students had to remain this way for about three hours. Once we were done, then the fun began. Anytime we get ready to announce to the students how they did, there is a moment of nervousness, and it is dead silence. The moment we announce, there is an eruption of sound and elation! On both days after contest, the bands went to Cici’s Pizza for lunch and stuffed ourselves!”