by Andreya Patinha (17)
Wethersfield High School Marching Band is popular at parades, football games, and competitions. But what about the jazz ensemble and honors band?
The jazz ensemble is a group of 16-22 students who enjoy playing jazz. Jazz ensemble has practice on Tuesday mornings before school starts at 7:40.
The honors band is a group of people who want to play at a higher level than the band. Pieces are much harder and complex. In the honors band there are generally between 30-45, which is a small wind ensemble. Honors band has practice on Thursday evenings.
Both of the groups, plus band and orchestra, are led by music teacher Mr.David Dion. He has been working here since 1999. He did not start the groups. Mr.Dion says that the past music teachers kept the jazz ensemble and honors band. It started sometime around the 1950’s.
At the concerts, students invite family and friends to see them perform. The concerts always ends with the audience clapping and them being a success. It may look easy but behind the magical melodies and perfect pitches, both bands put in a ton of hard work. Students practice with the full ensemble weekly and they have to find time to practice on their own time.
A trick that Mr.Dion uses to help students practice more is finding a piece that students will learn from. Most of the times, the students enjoy the pieces that Mr.Dion has chosen. He says “The songs that the students like, they practice and try harder and therefore they get more out of it. When the students like something it’s obvious and no doubt the performance will be better.”
Christina DeAngelo, a senior clarinet player in honors band said, “ The pieces we play for honors band are normally my favorites more so than the ones in the concert because they’re harder, which makes them more fun to play.”
The bands get invited to go to a adjudication festival every other year. These competitions are different than marching band competitions. In marching band competitions the other schools are constant. Southington and Cheshire High School just about always compete against WHS. At adjudication festivals the competition always changes. The schools are always changing.
The students like Mr.Dion. He shares stories when he was in high school and students share stories that happened now. I asked Mr.Dion what his favorite thing about being a music teacher and his response was perfect.
“This probably sounds cliche, but we play so much music and played in so many different competitions. It’s not the music isn’t important to me, I’ve heard all that before but watching students when they come in as a freshman and then leave as a senior. Not only do they become much better musician. Just watching them grow into adults and watching music become a part of that. Seeing how they take the things that they learn in music in terms of how it works together towards a common goal how to be self-disciplined, how to be a more effective member of a team, and how they take those skills and become adults when they leave as seniors. To me, that’s the most satisfying.”
Mr.Dion cares for the music department tremendously, he helps students play pieces while teaching them life lessons. The jazz ensemble and honors band is another way to show these lovely life lessons.