Local Music Students Participate In Honor Festival

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Rim Country Middle School Music Director Michael Buskirk and Pine-Strawberry Music director Daria Mason joined forces the past several years to participate in the White Mountain Music Teachers' Junior High Honor festival.

What that meant to 11 RCMS students and nine P-S students was a lot of work and an outstanding performance Nov. 18.

The 20 students traveled to Round Valley High School to join more than 150 other students from all over the White Mountain area.

These students are chosen for their musical talent on their chosen instrument.

The festival brings together a choir, an orchestra and a concert band.

Five RCMS students and three P-S students sang in the choir, while the rest of the students played in the band.

Nerves were a bit high as the groups were formed and the directors took charge. The children practiced three songs for about six hours before coming together for an evening performance.

Band director Tom Sullivan from Eastern Arizona College was pleased with his group of students.

"Our goal is to play good, not loud," he told the band at the start of the day.

The fidgety junior high students squirmed under his watchful eye, but soon settled in as they found he was there to have fun with them.

"Every single time you play a note, make it better than the last," he said.

"It's always a scary moment when you work with a new group of musicians," Sullivan said after the concert. "You are not sure what the level of musicians is.

"I have spent a lot of time with college and high school students and not a lot of time with junior high bands," Sullivan added.

The annual performance was well-attended and the students hard work was rewarded with a rousing applause.

"The students came well prepared and were here to learn," choir director Scott Jentry said. "As soon as they realize they are important, they start to really respond. I sense there is some good teaching going on in the White Mountains.

Payson students

The Payson students participating included: Shauna Curtis, Breanna Standifird, Brittney Leafty and Amy Leafty (choir); Sara DeWitt (flute) and Jarissa Kirkpatrick (flute); Lana Cluff (tenor saxophone); Joey Conklin (trumpet), Kaitlyn Phylow (French horn), and Patrick Vlahovich (baritone horn).

Pine-Strawberry students

Pine-Strawberry students included: Heather Barnett, Chelsea D'Archangelo and Crystal North (choir); Kati Kienetz (flute), Brooke Larned (clarinet), Krissy Hack (trumpet), Caleb Parkerson and Sam Payton (trombone), and Kelsey Bregar (percussion).

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