Winter Invitational gives Downers Grove area musicians practical experience, feedback

Woodridge School District 68 band director Bradley Payne guides his students along as they play their songs. (Megann Horstead/For The Bugle)

Area middle school bands get to learn outside of classroom during festival

By Megann Horstead | For The Bugle

The sound of music recently rang throughout the hallways at Lakeview Junior High School.

Center Cass School District 66 and Lakeview Junior High School hosted its 18th annual Center Cass District 66 Winter Invitational Saturday, Dec. 2.

The event was designed to create a learning opportunity outside of the classroom for music students in and around the Downers Grove area. Many of the participating school bands have not yet performed in holiday concerts in front of their communities.

“I also felt that there was a need for younger groups—and it was designed for younger groups, although we have a wide range of groups anywhere from kids in their second year of playing to kids in their third, fourth, or fifth year of playing—a need for them to have an experience that would allow them to get feedback from professionals on how they can perform as a group,” said Tom Tedeschi, band director for Center Cass School District 66. “It’s adjudicated by two clinicians, but there’s no placement. It’s really more for the educational aspect of it, in terms of giving the director and giving the students feedback on their performance level, what they can do to improve that, things that they’re doing well, how they can make those [bands] even better.”

This year, the Winter Invitational brought in 15 bands with students representing the Woodridge School District 68 second-year band, Herrick Middle School concert band, Indian Trail Junior High School sixth-grade band and Gower Middle School symphonic band.

Dozens were on hand watching on as students set out to showcase their skills and musicianship.

“For some groups, this is one of their premiere things that they do every year, so they come to this festival,” Tedeschi said. “I know some schools don’t do a lot of things, but the schools that have been coming really like the format of the festival for their kids.”

Not all schools are equally active in providing opportunities for students to participate in parades, festivals or competitions.

“Here, in District 66, we do a little bit more of that,” Tedeschi said. “I will take my group out to other festivals in the spring, we audition for various events throughout the Midwest. We are a bit more active in that aspect of it.”

Between each school band performance, two clinicians, Glenn Williams and Victor Anderson, provided feedback and suggestions and worked with the students through select portions of the music they had learned.

“Having other people listen and critique your group is always good, and it always brings out better ideas, more ideas, or reinforcement of ideas that maybe their director is doing,” Tedeschi said.

The premise of the Winter Invitational rings true for many.

“I see that growth with my own kids,” Tedeschi said.

Moving forward, students in Center Cass School District 66 have some community band performances to look forward to in the coming days, festivals and performances in the spring, and auditions for a statewide festival.

Tedeschi gave credit to students, parents, the administration and Board of Education for supporting the band program and the Winter Invitational they way they do.

As this year’s Winter Invitational came to a close, trophies were awarded to each participating school band.

 

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