This photo is of one of the Dexter High School groups in the sight reading room.
submitted pic

By Lonnie Huhman,

The 2018-2019 school year will go down as a great one for the bands in Dexter Community Schools.

On Friday, March 1, all five of the DCS bands-7th through 12th grade-attended the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association District 12 Festival and received straight division 1 ratings, which are superior ratings or the highest achievable, in their performance assessments.


Andrew Damman, the director of bands at Mill Creek Middle School, called this, “A pretty remarkable accomplishment.”

For the student participants, the success is greatly appreciated, but it’s just one result from the festival.

“Band festival is a very welcoming experience for students,” said Dana Kulas, who is part of the seventh-grade band. “It allows pupils to get advice from band directors other than their own. It helps students with personal growth and to blossom into the young musicians they are, with the help of encouraging adjudicators.”

Damman said the MSBOA (Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association) Band & Orchestra Festival is an event where performing ensembles attend to perform for ratings and assessments. He said groups will prepare three pieces of music to perform for the concert portion of the festival, which is assessed by three judges. Then, he said, the groups perform in the sight reading room afterwards, which the group is given five minutes to look at a brand new piece of music and has to perform it for an additional judge.

He said all judges will give groups grades in areas of tone, intonation, rhythm, technique and interpretation with those grades accumulating into an overall rating; Rating of 1 being superior down to a rating of 5 being poor.

The bands began preparing for the festival back in November when they distributed their concert pieces.

“We work hard in every rehearsal getting every detail possible with full rehearsals and small pull out groups,” Damman said. “Other preparations include recording ourselves to listen for concepts to work on, holding our Festival Preview Concert the week before, which is performing our concert as a public performance, and practicing sight reading much like what is done at the festival.”

For the band directors, Damman said another result of the festival has them working to keep helping the bands grow and learn.

When a group has completed the festival cycle, Damman said they will be given rubrics back that will include written feedback, grades for concepts and overall ratings. They will also receive the concert recordings and a recording by one of the concert judges with verbal feedback.

“We use these rubrics and recordings to continue to improve the overall quality of the groups,” he said.