DHS Band, Orchestra Compete in Music Festival
Dexter students set their sights to state competition in March.
Dexter High School junior Samantha Griffith has been playing the violin since she was in fifth grade, but that doesn't make it any easier when judgment day arrives.
On Jan. 15, she was among more than 100 DHS students who competed in the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association's Solo & Ensemble festival held at Franklin High School in Livonia. The competition featured students from Dexter and other schools across Washtenaw County.
DHS Orchestra Director Matt DeLoria said both the orchestra and the band performed extremely well at the competition.
Of the 155 students competing in the band, 76 received a score of "1" and qualified for state competition. In addition, 96 percent of the participants in the band competition received medals.
In the orchestra, of the 62 students competing, 35 qualified for state. DeLoria said 95 percent of the orchestra's participants received a medal.
Both the band and orchestra are now focusing on the next level of competition in March.
"We are determining which students want to go to states right now but I'd guess between 1/3 and 1/2 of our kids who qualify will choose to move on to the next level," DeLoria said.
Samantha, who performed Concerto in A minor by Jean Batiste Accolay for the competition, said she enjoys performing with the orchestra.
"I've been practicing for months and really intensely for the last two weeks (for the competition)," she said.
DeLoria believes that the festival is a great opportunity for students to showcase their musical talents.
Samantha's mother Maryann Griffith agreed.
"The competition takes her out of her own environment and puts her in front of other people and that's good experience for Sam," she said.
DeLoria said that the goal of playing in an orchestra is to blend in musically, but solo and ensemble performances are a chance for students to stand out from the collective.
"I don't think of (the festival) as a competition but as a way to get better," said DHS senior Amber Rose, who has played her cello at the festival for the last four years.
"The festival requires a lot of work and you also get a lot of freedom," said Ben Smith, a cellist and DHS senior.
DeLoria said that the judges' comments and scoring give students a way to gauge how effective their preparation and performance are.
"While the rating is often the most important piece to the students, it is the process, comments and experience that is most valuable in the eyes of the music directors," DeLoria said.