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County music students welcome critical review

March 01, 1998|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

by Ric Dugan / staff photographer

see the enlargement

musician and viola

Her solo and duo performances completed, 15-year-old Lindsay Smigelski rested - flute in case - on the bleachers Saturday afternoon while fellow student musicians filled the Northern Middle School gymnasium with a chaotic clash of last-minute rehearsals.

After two years of superior ratings in the Washington County Solo and Ensemble Festival, the North Hagerstown High School sophomore said she wasn't nervous waiting to find out how judges rated her performances this year.

"The first year, I didn't, but I know what's going to happen," said Smigelski, who said she looks forward to reading the judges' comments on her weaknesses as much as her strengths.

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"The judges help me grow as a musician by criticizing me," she said.

It's the third year the Washington County School System has organized the day-long festival,

Middle and high school students can perform either alone or in groups for judges, said Music Resource Specialist Susie Kunkle.

The festival is open to public and private school students, who can perform for a rating or simply for judge's comments, said Kunkle, who said most students go for the rating.

A superior or "1" rating at the festival qualifies a student to go on to state competition, she said.

There were between 135 and 140 solo and ensemble entries this year, Kunkle said.

Music teachers encourage students to enter and often spend time outside of class helping them prepare, she said.

It's good for the students to get input from professionals other than their teachers, Kunkle said.

Students who perform with ensembles also find out how fun it is to play in small groups rather than as part of a whole band or orchestra, she said.

Smigelski's partner in a duet, clarinetist Ryan Haupt, said he was thankful he finally had the time needed to prepare for the event.

"It gives me a chance to play something by myself instead of with a whole band. It's a lot of fun," said Haupt, 18, a senior at North Hagerstown High School.

It took Kelly Anders, 17, about a month to prepare her xylophone solo of "Flight of the Bumblebee" for the festival.

The Williamsport High School senior said she worked the piece out on the piano to get the rhythm down before started to rehearse it on the xylophone.

"It's easier to get the rhythm first then the notes," said Anders, who played piano accompaniment at the festival last year.

After two string quartet performances, Northern Middle School seventh-grader Maggie Dudgeon, 12, had only her violin solo to go, she said, after a last-minute rehearsal.

Set up near Dudgeon by the basketball hoop, violinist Mylynh Nguyen was taking advantage of the few minutes until her two solo performances.

Her third year at the festival, the North Hagerstown High School freshman said she wouldn't miss the opportunity to go before the tough group of critics.

"It's just a wonderful experience," said Nguyen, who went on to state competition last year. "The judges' feedback, even if you don't do as well as you wanted to do, tells you what your strengths and weaknesses are. It really helps you as far as your playing goes."

The students received their results throughout the day.

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