Smokey Road Middle School band tops in class
From Staff Reports
Smokey Road Middle School’s Wind Ensemble performed before a sold-out audience on the Hugh Hodgson School of Music on the University of Georgia campus recently.
The Smokey Road Wind Ensemble – made up of 47 members, grades 6 through 8 – played at the 22nd annual University of Georgia Middle School Band Festival. As one of only six middle school bands in the state of Georgia chosen to perform at this year’s festival, the concert highlighted the middle school band as one of the most accomplished middle school band programs in the state.
As icing on the cake, Smokey Road Middle School Director of Bands Josh Boyd and music teacher and volunteer Assistant Director Joel Satterfield were also honored at the event by the National Band Association, with a Citation of Excellence for their contributions to “bands and band music through professional leadership.”
“Receiving that Citation of Excellence from the National Band Association is one of the highest marks of distinction of any band director’s career,” said Boyd. “However, the greatest honor for me was to stand onstage and conduct what I consider to be the greatest students who are destined to be future leaders of our community. Being their band director is the greatest honor that I will ever receive.”
Satterfield echoed Boyd’s comments.
“While we are honored to receive this award, we both recognize that it is only one of so many examples of inspirational teaching and leadership that happens every day at Smokey Road Middle School. Our faculty and administration remains dedicated to reaching and motivating all students, from the fine arts to athletics to each club and program we offer; all serve as opportunities to produce the best academic student,” said Boyd.
Boyd and Satterfield both conducted the Smokey Road band students at the concert.
“We are one of six guest bands from across the state” chosen from among hundreds of applicants for the concert, said Boyd. “To be able to play at the concert you have to go through a pretty extensive application process. We have entered for several years, and this year have become the first middle school band in Coweta County to attend.”
The band performed “Aria Cantabile” by Frank Erickson, “Ammerland” by Jacob Haan, and “Today is the Gift” by Samuel Hazo. The band also premiered a piece written especially for the Smokey Road band – “Singularity,” composed by Joel Satterfield.
Arnco-Sargent Elementary School music teacher Kathy Brown – a marimba soloist - and Elm Street Elementary School music teacher Josh Tate – a euphonium soloist – also joined the Smokey Road students during the performance.
“We choose contrasting selections of music in order to showcase the diversity of the Coweta County Middle School Band experience,” said Boyd. Much of the music was chosen from the Georgia Music Educators Association’s list of designated advanced middle school band music.
“The students performed marvelously,” said Don Nixon, Coweta County Fine Arts Coordinator. “I was impressed with how focused the students and parents were on accomplishing the goal they were there for. Their performance was a great reflection on the students, but also the instructors and leadership of that school. Every student there understood that they had been selected to be an example.”
Nixon said the audience reacted to Smokey Road’s performance with a standing ovation. “They played with such discipline and precision that everyone in the room recognized the quality of the performance that had been offered,” said Nixon. “To get such a reaction from their peers statewide was quite an accomplishment.”
“I spoke with the director of the UGA instrumental band program afterward, and he could not offer enough praise for the example that they set,” said Nixon.
“Having Don Nixon accompany us served as an inspiration to the band members,” said Boyd. “They felt honored at having the Director of the Centre and Fine Arts Coordinator travel to Athens to hear them perform.”
“Mr. Nixon and the Coweta County Board of Education’s dedication to a quality music education should serve as a model for others in our state,” said Boyd. “The great performance was the result of an entire team - students, parents, community members, teachers, administrators, as well as school board officials – coming together to allow our students to showcase the great work that goes on in every classroom, across ever subject, in our school system.”
“An invitation to the festival is one of the highest honors a band like ours can achieve,” said Smokey Road Middle School Principal Laurie Barron. “We are so proud of all of them – Mr. Bush and Mr Satterfield, and the students.”
“But I’m especially proud of the strong community support our band program has had from parents, business partners and the school board, which makes honors like this possible,” said Barron.