Niles High band earns top honors at competition

Published 9:00 am Monday, March 22, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- The Niles High School varsity band recently received the highest marks possible at the Southwest Michigan Band and Orchestra Festival in Benton Harbor.
On March 9, the band placed on top of the list of 75 area bands and orchestras at the Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College.
Niles High School principal Betty Perkins was thrilled to hear about the band's performance and treated the entire band to a pizza party on Wednesday.
Hacker explained the festival was not a competition among different schools. Each school participating in the festival was graded on a particular set of standards by three judges.
Bands were judged in both a prepared performance and in a sight reading.
The Niles High School band's prepared performance consisted of renditions of "Our Director," "Cityscape," and "Kenya Contrasts," a medley of Kenyan national songs.
The sight reading is a more difficult task in which the students are given two pieces of music they have never seen before and given seven minutes to look the music over before the band must perform the pieces.
Hacker said the students are not allowed to touch their instruments during the seven minutes, they can only look over the music.
She said sight reading can be a nerve racking experience for students.
She prepares her classes for these exercises by introducing all of the new music as sight readings.
The band's performance was graded on a scale of one to five, with one being the highest mark.
The performances are judged in five different categories: tone, technique, intonation, rhythm and interpretation. Niles High School varsity band received ones across the board from all three judges.
Hacker said when she entered the room to announce how well the band had done, the students jumped up and down in celebration.
The Niles High School freshmen band and Ring Lardner seventh and eighth grade bands all received ratings of 2. The Brandywine High School and Brandywine Middle School bands all received ratings of 3.