Music programs excel

CIN COM 0606 middle school music programs01
From left, NEMS choir director Jordan Rattenbury, NEMS orchestra director Dan Hedlund and NEMS band directors Betheny Hanlin and Alex Keim. (Submitted photos)

By Mark Ambrogi

When Noblesville added a second middle school in the 2012-13 school year, it allowed for more music classes.

That has benefited both East and West middle schools’ programs. For instance, the split allowed time for jazz band classes.

CIN COM 0606 middle school music programs02
From left, NWMS choir director Alex Axsom, NWMS strings instructor Elizabeth Jackson and NWMS band director Stacey White.

“We attributed most of our growth to our strong elementary school programs,” East band director Betheny Hanlin said. “We truly believe they are the ones that help our programs grow the most. They get them excited as well as they come in with a good fundamental knowledge of music.”

East’s three choir groups received a gold rating with distinction from the Indiana State School Music Association. Choir Director Jordan Rattenbury’s show choir was named grand champion at the Edgewood contest in February and earned best vocals and best visuals. It also was first runner-up at a competition at Ben Davis High School.

“The drama club put on ‘Aladdin Jr.,’ and it was sold out for all three shows. That was big because I don’t think they’ve ever sold out all three shows before,” Hanlin said.

Hanlin said all three concert bands received gold ratings, and the eighth-grade band received a distinction honor, the highest for its level, in March.

“We were playing music they were playing at the high school (level), and that was fun,” Hanlin said.

East Middle School alto saxophone player Jacob Renner, an eighth-grader, made Junior All-State. Renner, Callen Foley (bassoon) and Joy Corbett (drum set) all received solo gold ratings from ISSMA. The mallet trio of Corbett, Karen Wentz and Bailey Smith received a gold rating in the ensemble category.

16th Street Groove, one of East’s jazz bands, received a gold rating at the ISSMA contest. The band received an All-Music award for excellence in all solo, ensemble, concert and jazz band performances.

All four orchestras received gold ratings at ISSMA competitions.

West band director Stacey White said his concert bands got four gold ratings and a silver rating at ISSMA.

“Our jazz band got a gold (earlier for ) a total of five golds,” White said. “We had a student, (eighth-grader Vincent Hammer), who went to Junior All-State Jazz band (in January). That was a big deal because he was one of two on drum set in the whole state, so he was able to go to the Indiana Music Educations convention and play.”

West Middle School orchestras earned three golds and a silver at ISSMA. The school’s show choir placed in the top three in all the contests it competed in and was named grand champion at the final competition at North Central High School. The choir earned three golds at ISSMA.