By John R. Schirmer
The Nashville High School band won the Sweepstakes Award in competition earlier this month at Lake Hamilton High School.
Nashville received a Superior rating in its concert assessment and Superior in sight reading. Last fall, the Scrapper musicians received Superior in marching competition at Hot Springs Lakeside.
By receiving Superior ratings in all three assessments, Nashville won the Sweepstakes Award.
“I’m really proud of them,” Director Sara Jo Morris said of her band members. “They are really talented musicians. I’m proud of them for their hard work.”
Judges made a number of comments in their evaluations of the band, Morris said. Some of them include the following:
“Some great moments.”
“Performance was a fun, exciting musical journey.”
“Everything was in its place.”
“Nice band sound.”
“Really enjoyed your group.”
“On the right track. Keep it up.”
The Nashville sweep of the competition was the first in at least 20 years. “The last time we won the Sweepstakes was during the 1990s” when Larry and Sandra Cross were the directors, according to Morris.
“This is one of the highest honors to be ranked among the elite in the state,” Morris said.
Nashville received one first division last year.
The band’s preparation began last summer and continued through November with the competition show for the marching assessment.
Bandsmen worked from January through early March on the concert assessment, Morris said.
The sight-reading portion involved presenting the band with an unfamiliar piece of music and allowing the members seven minutes to prepare it.
The selections “are usually written especially for sight reading,” Morris said. “The kids liked this piece.”
Sight-reading pieces will be released after this year, Morris said, and will be available for performance.
Morris said she begins listening to possible selections for the concert assessment about a year in advance as the band prepares for competition.
The assessment includes three songs picked from a list, with one march, one Grade 2 and a Grade 1 or higher, according to Morris.
“I pick one piece that the students really enjoy and others to really challenge them. I look at what to teach them and what will make them better musicians,” Morris said.
The band presented a concert March 14 which included the concert assessment selections. “We want the parents to hear what we’ve been working on,” Morris said.
When the Sweepstakes award was announced, “There was a lot of screaming, chanting, cheering,” Morris said.
At the concert, Morris was sporting a different hair color than usual for her. The Ouachita Baptist University graduate entered the court at Scrapper Arena with purple hair, not to reflect her alma mater’s school colors but to keep an agreement with her band students.
“At the end of marching competition, we had a superior and we were eligible for Sweepstakes. When we returned to school in January, I gave an incentive to push it that much harder. I told the band that if we do it [ win Sweepstakes], I’d dye my hair a crazy color. I didn’t specify it at the time,” Morris said.
After the win, she chose purple, and Misty Wilson at Unique Body Salon did the rest.