"Sweep The Corners" has been the motto of the STC Band program for a few years now. It is an easier way to say "always pay attention to the details in everything you do". It's this attention to detail that has earned the STC Marching Band Division One Ratings 8 of the past 9 years at the Iowa High School Music Association State Marching Band Festival. Now, the band can add another award. The band received a Division One Rating at the IHSMA State Large Group Festival held in Grinnell last Friday night, May 4. It's the band's first Division One in Concert Band since 1997, and this marks the first time since the 1985-86 school year that bands at South Tama have received a Division One Rating in both Marching Band and Concert Band.
"It's pretty well understood that it's more difficult to receive a One in Concert Band than in Marching Band," said Mike Carnahan, director of the STC Bands, "And that is not to take anything away from our accomplishments on the marching band field, because they are both pretty tough to attain." In Marching Band, bands are judged on marching and maneuvering both from the field and the press box and the general effect of the music also from the field and the press box. "So different judges are looking for and scoring different things.", explained Carnahan. "In the Concert Band setting, there are three judges all listening to and judging the band's performance the same."
Concert bands judged on eight categories: Tone Quality, Intonation, Rhythm, Balance and Blend, Technique, Interpretation and Musicianship, Articulation, and Other Performance Factors. They can be awarded up to 5 points in each category, so a perfect ballot would be worth 40 points. As the judges hear wrong notes or rhythms, or as they hear good quality sounds and expression, they make comments and at the conclusion of the performance award points in each category. "The real challenge is trying to break into that Division One range, because you can only miss 4 points to be considered for a One.", said Carnahan. The range of scores for a One fall between 40-36 points. A Two is 35-30, a Three 29-22, a Four 21-12, and a Five is 11-8. "This was not a performance where judges were torn on their scores. All three judges awarded us a One with scores of 36, 36, and 38.", Carnahan added.
The South Tama High School Concert Band performs under the direction of Mike Carnanhan, on Tuesday, May 8. The performance followed the band’s Division One Rating received at the IHSMA State Large Group Festival held in Grinnell last Friday night, May 4.
The members of the band were ecstatic when they heard the news. Ratings are posted a while after the performance, and since STC's performance time was 9:00 p.m., many of the students were already loaded onto the buses to head home when they got word.
"I wanted to see the rating, and I was about the only one of us in the cafeteria where they posted ratings. When I saw it was a One, I thought 'this can't be, it can't be right', but then became speechless and took off running to the buses to tell the others." said Beth Wilson a junior clarinet player in the band. "Mr. Carnahan was the first person I saw and I ran up and gave him a big bear hug to celebrate, then took off running again to share the news with the band."
"I was pretty stoked when I heard we got a One!", mentioned Talon Lamb, a freshman trumpet player in the band, "The whole bus was a riot when we heard the news. It was a blast!"
"I was kind of shocked, not in a bad way, but a good way.", said Melissa Peters, a senior trumpet player in the band, "I wondered if it was serious or if they were kidding. I felt overwhelmed. For my senior year, I am glad we were able to accomplish this."
"I was confident we would get a One before performing", added Mike Cahow a sophomore who plays baritone sax with the band, "I was ecstatic when I heard we actually got it!"
"It felt really good to be in the group that got a One after 15 years.", mentioned Sierra Betz, a senior percussionist.
"I am extremely proud of this bunch of students.", said Carnahan, "In the education world today, a lot of emphasis is being placed on schools in the areas of math and reading and other core classes. Test scores are becoming the measuring stick for how successful our schools are and how much our students know. Music and the Arts have a difficult time sometimes "fitting in" to that scheme, and I feel it's important for everyone to understand the role of the Fine Arts and other electives in the school curriculum. I teach my students sometimes daily, on the impact of what we are doing in the band room. Learning how to play right notes and performing great music is only part of it; learning to work together, about dedication and responsibility, creativity, empathy, self-discipline, and along with all these things enhancing math, reading, science and other classes makes the Arts extremely powerful and useful. I see it as an absolute privilege to be directing this group and helping them realize something about themselves through music."