Instrumental music students from Alliance, Scottsbluff and Gering competed in the 16th annual Western Nebraska Middle-Level Music Contest on Saturday, Feb. 22 at Scottsbluff High School, earning 113 superior ratings from the judges.

Judges, Gary Hall of Loveland, Colorado, Michael Schlake of Ogallala, Neb., Randy Raines of Gering, Neb., and Michael Stephens of Chadron, Neb., were asked to offer encouragement and advice to help the young musicians improve as players. During the soloist and ensemble performances, the judges assessed the young musicians on their articulation, balance/blend, dynamics, interpretation/style, intonation, literature, note accuracy, phrasing, posture, rhythm, technique, tempo, and tone quality as well as appearance, behavior, and stage presence. The rating scale was superior, excellent and good.

Alliance Middle School band members received 21 superior ratings and three excellent ratings. The Alliance Middle School Jazz Band received an excellent rating.

Scottsbluff Middle School band students received 78 superior ratings, 13 excellent ratings and one good rating. As an ensemble, the BMS 6th, 7th and 8th grade bands received superior ratings.

“I am very proud with how my students performed for both their solos and as a part of their concert bands,” BMS band teacher Michael Koch said.

Prior to the contest, Koch was impressed with his students’ dedications to perfect their solos and ensemble pieces.

“It takes a great deal of extra time and practice to prepare a solo, not to mention the extra time it takes to practice with their accompanist,” he said. “It also takes a lot of courage to get up in front of a judge and play for them all by yourself.”

Koch hopes his students grew in their playing abilities as well as became more confident in their skills.

Gering Junior High School band students received 14 superior ratings and nine excellent ratings. The Alliance Middle School Jazz Band received an excellent rating. The Gering Junior High School 7th grade concert band received an excellent rating and the 8th grade concert band received a superior rating.

“I thought the contest went very well,” Natalie Prokop, GJHS music teacher, said. “The students performed very well and did better than I expected.”

Prokop added, “I am hoping the students learned what the judges may have told them for feedback and feel accomplished for all their hard work.”

Following Saturday’s contest, BMS students prepared for a concert on Tuesday, Feb. 25. The bands performed in the Bluffs Middle School Cafetorium. The 6th grade band performed at 6 p.m., the 7th grade band performed at 7 p.m., and the 8th grade band performed at 8 p.m.

GJHS band students will begin preparing for their spring concert in May.

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