The Foster Middle School Band this past weekend earned a rare distinction among Texas middle school bands – the coveted Concert & Sight-Reading Sweepstakes award.
And the judges were unanimous in their decision, which is even rarer.
Bands that compete at concert and sight-reading contests must first perform pieces that they’ve rehearsed for several weeks. For the sight-reading portion, students are handed unfamiliar music and given seven minutes to learn it – before performing it for the judges.
Foster was among nine bands in Region 21 to bring home a Sweepstakes trophy, and one of only three to receive the judges’ top (superior) rating across the board – including sight-reading.
“It’s very stringent,” Foster Band Director Jessie Smith said. “Seven minutes – with no discussion among the musicians – is not exactly a lot of time to learn a piece of music.”
By comparison, the 2012-13 Foster Band earned superior ratings for its concert performance, but only five bands in the region earned a Sweepstakes trophy. The last time a Longview ISD middle school band won Sweepstakes was 2011. And Foster won that one too.
Earlier this year, Foster musicians garnered 140 UIL Solo & Ensemble 1st Division awards; 28 students earned All-Region status, including two students who accomplished it on two different instruments and one eighth-grade student who also made the high school All-Region Band.
“I’ve known my students’ abilities for almost a couple of years now, and I’m never surprised at what they achieve,” Smith said. “I’m really proud of my kids.”
Foster’s advanced band is also one of the largest middle school bands in east Texas, with 106 students.
By Adam Holland