PHOTOS: Students preparing for upcoming performances
VIDEO: Students preparing for upcoming performances
Band students’ leadership and musicianship result in Disney performance
When Cindy Owens looks out at her band students from the director’s podium, not only does she see promising musicians, she sees leaders in the making. And, the students’ schedule of events and activities over the past five months proves that their leadership skills have been put to good use.
Owens, who has taught band at W.C. Friday Middle School in Dallas for 18 years, knows that being in the band contributes to students being well-rounded. In addition to learning about music, they gain an understanding of the importance of hard work, responsibility, collaboration, perseverance, and dedication – all skills that are useful in life.
“Ever since our mini-camps in July, we have been busy, and with the holiday season here, we are going full force,” said Owens.
In addition to the grade-level bands, a point of pride for the school is the “Jazz Cavs,” a sort of all-star group that takes its name from the W.C. Friday Cavalier mascot. The “Jazz Cavs” band is returning as the featured musicians for the McAdenville tree lighting on December 1. The full band’s holiday concert is December 5 at 6:45 p.m. at North Gaston High School, and the band students will spread holiday cheer with performances at area nursing homes on December 19-20.
Being active in the community fosters a sense of pride and belonging among the students, according to Owens, and it sparks interest in eventually moving up to the high school band at North Gaston.
“At the middle-school level, we build a foundation for students to go on to be involved in the high school band program, and we have some students who decide to pursue music in college because of their experience here,” said Owens. “It is rewarding to have students start band with me and then see them stay involved in music as they get older. Band and music are more than just classes you take in school; they are an experience that can benefit you throughout life.”
Recently, Owens’ students have gotten a lot of experience performing in front of audiences. They played for the back-to-school orientation for sixth graders, the school’s 9-11 remembrance ceremony, and the “Spooktacular Spectacular” that blended patriotic songs with spooky tunes for Halloween. In addition to providing musical entertainment, the band staged a fun costume parade for elementary-age children complete with certificates and treat bags. Further, the “Jazz Cavs” hosted a “Boo Breakfast” for faculty and staff.
All that the students have done so far this school year is preparing them for what’s to come – something Owens sees as a performance of a lifetime. W.C. Friday received official notification in October that the band will participate in the Disney Imagination Campus’ performing arts program in March. It’s a unique event that only select bands get to experience.
“We are super excited about the Disney program, and we have already started preparing for what will be an incredible performance opportunity,” said Owens. “Engaging my students in the Disney experience will be something that they will remember for the rest of their lives. We cannot wait.”
W.C. Friday is home to Gaston County Schools’ Leadership Academy for grades 6-8; North Gaston and Costner and Carr elementary schools also have a leadership-centered focus. Owens says she is glad to see her school focusing on leadership, and she believes it is making a difference. After all, she knows it takes good student leaders to have good band musicians.