Six band members will perform at Ball State

Musicians named members of university’s honor band

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Six members of the Pride of the Irish have been selected to participate as part of the Ball State Honors Band. They are, from left, Micah Wasmuth, Joseph Jideonwo, Claudia Darnell, Amelia DeSanto, Gabe Tice and Andrew Marcou.

Andrew de las Alas, Reporter

Peak performance in an extracurricular is the goal for any participant. Athletes will try out for varsity, thespians will go for the lead role and some may try to become an officer or president of their club. 

In the world of high school music, one of the indicators for musical talent and success is qualification for an honor band.

The Ball State Honors Band is a program put on by the music department at Ball State University in which high caliber student-musicians can learn, practice and perform at the collegiate level. 

On Dec. 6 and Dec. 7, 100 students from all over Indiana and the greater Midwest will attend the on-campus program where they will do little but eat, sleep, practice and play music. Junior Gabe Tice, who has participated twice and will go again this year with his alto saxophone, said that while it may be a stressful, “it’s a good kind of stress.” 

Director of Bands Mrs. Kathy McCullough said that the honors band “pushes the musicianship” of students who participate. She said that students are able to bring back what they learn and help bring up the rest of the band. It also allows students to build up a music portfolio if they wish to study music in college. The rejuvenated sense of effort, as well as tips learned from their stay with the band, can help improve the overall atmosphere of marching band at the participants’ schools.

McCullough said that the students who do perform with the Ball State Honors Band are some of the best of the Pride of the Irish. The wide array of skill means that some students may stand out over others and they can go from “being one of the best to being on par with everyone else,” McCullough said. She added that one of the best aspects is “you’re with people to help motivate you.”

Students will leave school on Dec. 6 for their trip to Ball State. After a series of auditions for first chairs, practice starts almost immediately, stopping only for meals.  The group is a concert band, so they play more classical music, which can be different for band students here who play pep and marching band music in addition to concert music.

The pinnacle of the program is a concert at 7:30 on Dec. 7 at Sursa Performance Hall on the Ball State campus. Tice said that one of his favorite parts is seeing his parents and McCullough in the audience. The concert and parking are both free. 

At least one student has played in the Ball State Honors Band since its conception around five years ago. Tice said, “As a freshman it was kind of intimidating,” but this year will be the largest group he’s gone with. Other students who will attend include freshmen Micah Wasmuth and Joseph Jideonwo, sophomore Amelia DeSanto, junior Andrew Marcou and senior Claudia Darnell.

To qualify for the band three years in a row is no easy feat. There are four spots for saxophone, which McCullough specifically said is one of the more competitive instruments, as well as flute. 

Tice said typically 200 to 300 students apply. For the application, a committee will review any musical awards or musical background. Many students, including Tice, have taken private lessons and has “an exquisite background,” according to McCullough, but lessons are not necessarily a prerequisite. 

McCullough said that many of the students participating are likely to pursue music in some form in college. Tice said that he’s considering minoring in music and that he would “like to keep playing, and living my life with music.” Tice hopes to drive his musical ability overall and will audition for first chair. With the leadership role of drum major for the Pride of the Irish, Tice hopes to mirror a friendly attitude that can help make people feel more included.

Overall, McCullough said that she’s incredibly pleased with the fact that the school allows for and supports opportunities such as this. The enthusiasm felt by students, parents and band leaders demonstrates how significant induction into the band really is, she said.