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Franklin-Fulton County Music Educators Association's annual band festival goes on despite weather

January 21, 2012|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Members of the junior high band get in some last-minute practice Saturday before the Franklin-Fulton County Music Educators Association's annual band festival at Chambersburg (Pa.) Area Senior High School.
By Roxann Miller

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Most kids are excited when they see snow, but not 12-year-old Dakotah Johnson.

He worried that Saturday’s county band festival might be canceled.

“He’s been looking forward to it,” said Johnson’s mother, Maria Stouder of Upper Strasburg, Pa. “He said, ‘Oh no, Mom. It snowed.’”

But it was going to take more than a few inches of snow to cancel the Franklin-Fulton County Music Educators Association’s annual band festival.

Aside from a 30-minute delay in the start time and several schools that pulled out of the festival at the last minute, the event went on as planned.

Seven school districts, including Chambersburg, Corpus Christi, McConnellsburg, Mercersburg Academy, Southern Fulton, Tuscarora and Waynesboro, participated in the concert Saturday at Chambersburg Area Senior High School.

After two days of practice, more than 200 student musicians in grades 7 to 12, selected by their band directors, performed Saturday afternoon.

Phil Thorpe, director of the Waynesboro Middle School band, said the festival is a learning experience for the students.

“It gives a chance for a lot of them, especially the upper-level players, to play some music that’s above what they normally would play in their regular band,” Thorpe said. “So it’s an extra challenge. It forces them to work a little harder and maybe dig a little deeper into the talent that they have.”

This puts together the best of the best in the county, said Keith Smith, director of the James Buchanan High School band.

“All the school districts have great kids involved in the music departments, and this is a chance to get our best kids together with the best kids from the other schools. To have a combination like that is kind of magical,” Smith said. “They are kind of the cream of the crop, and they get to do some more challenging things. This makes these kids kind of stretch (musically) a little bit.”

As Joan Peiffer sat outside the auditorium selling tickets for the performance, she beamed with pride as she talked about her daughter, Jackie.

“She is the youngest of five, and all the kids have been involved in the band and music program in the Chambersburg area,” Peiffer said. “I think it helps them come out of their shell a little bit. It helps them become more outgoing. I think it helps them in the rest of their studies because they have to manage their time.”

This is the second year that Jackie has been selected for county band.

“It’s a huge accomplishment,” Peiffer said. “It’s great for all the kids who are involved, and they sound fantastic for a junior band. I can’t believe this is the junior band.”

The junior high band played six songs conducted by William Stowman, and the high school band played four songs conducted by Lynn Lerew.

James Buchanan High School senior Austin Keller has performed in the county band for seven years.

He said performing with other musicians helps him improve musically.

“You get too used to your own band, so it’s nice to mingle with people from other bands and see how they look at things,” Keller said. “It’s a good way to meet people.”

It was music that helped Waynesboro Area Senior High School senior Meg Piavis connect with her autistic brother. From then on, she was hooked on the power of music.

“It (music) has helped me express myself,” said Piavis, who performed in the festival for the sixth year.

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