The sounds of flutes, French horns and clarinets tangled with each other as students in the Statesboro High School wind ensemble practiced and prepared for a test. Dr. Danny Keine, band director, was a flurry of activity as he instructed one student after another as they made music — a passion they all share.
It is that passion that drives them to excel, and that passion and Keine’s leadership that has guided the Statesboro High School band to have had students invited to perform in honor bands around the state.
A honor band is “the outside opportunity to go and perform with the best students from other schools under a famous conductor,” Keine said, taking a break form teaching in his band room office. “It benefits (students) by playing with the best of the best, seeing how rehearsals are expected to run, learning behaviors ... and bringing the experience back to their home band.”
Keine’s pride in his students is apparent. “We’ve got a ton of great kids down here doing amazing things,” he said.
For instance, 13 students achieved selection to play in the Winterfest Honor Band at Armstrong State University. Nine students will attend the upcoming University of Georgia Music Festival, and 19 students were selected for auditions to the All-State District Honor Band.
Two students from the high school’s symphonic band — the group of students advanced from it’s first-level concert band — were selected along with 17 from the wind ensemble, the school’s highest level band that is almost “college level,” Keine said.
Five of those 17 were selected for t he principal first chairs — “the best in the section” of the honor band, he said.
Six students made the second round in the all-state auditions, and one — Melanie Schmid — was selected to play in the All-State band, he said.
Another student, Matt Brown, made the All-State band three years in a row previously, he said.
It’s an exciting time for Keine and his students.
“My goal for the kids is to prepare them to be able to audition to major in music at any school if they choose to do so,” he said.
Unlike other majors, a student interested in becoming a music major must audition first, he said. “We play college level literature all the time, so they’re ready.”
Brown, 17, plays the French Horn and enjoys auditioning for honor bands because he gets to meet new people and have new experiences.
“I like being able to ... create something together with people I’ve never met and that can be the most beautiful thing you’ve ever made,” he said.
Music is his escape from outside pressures and a way to express his creativity. “For me, it is my outlet. It lets me get away from things, a way of letting it all go and having my time.”
Schmid, 16, who also plays the French horn, said music “feels good.
“All the hard work and hours you put in pays off,” she said. It’s indescribable.”
She grew up with music, as her parents are both music professors at Georgia Southern University. With music as a way of life around her house, “I’ve grown to love it,” she said.
Alisha Drummer, 18, plays the bass clarinet.
Auditioning for honor bands is fun because “you miss school,” she joked. Then, more seriously, “You meet new people, get to talk to them and meet clinicians who give us good tips.
Music “allows me to learn and express how I feel,” she said. “It helps me deal with emotions. It’s just what I do.”
Apparently, music is an outlet for all the students in Keine’s classes, a point made obvious as they jammed together, reveling in the music they were making.
In addition to Schmid, Drummer and Brown, the following Statesboro High School students auditioned for the All-State District Honor Band:
Vicki Gleissner, flute; Deion Bird, flute; Rebecca Li, oboe; Katlin Frey, clarinet; Skylar Mitchum, percussion; Caroline Henderson, flute; Carolyn Lee, oboe; Kenneth Bedwell, clarinet; Erin Irby, alto saxophone; Jordan Gunter, horn; Elliot Edwards, horn.
Also, David Floyd, euphonium; Victoria Frink, tuba; Michael Roesel, percussion; and Jaylen Holloway, percussion.
Henderson, Li, Frey, Drummer, Brown and Schmid all advanced to the second round, with Schmid taking the next step to selection to the honor band.
A Portal High School student, Katherine Mincey, also auditioned for the All-State District Honor Band, and made it to the second round. Mincey plays flute.