By Karen Campbell
Special to The Press
The West Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association (WTSBOA) has been promoting school music since 1939 and musicians from Martin schools have been a part of that rousing history from the first lift of the baton. This year, with more than 2,100 auditions in January, two Martin Middle School and seven Westview students claimed prized positions in the association’s All West Band.
Longtime Westview/Martin Middle band director Mike Tucker was joined this year by Jennifer Cupples, who is a member of the WTSBOA Executive Board and the incoming president for the association, whose purpose is to promote the study of instrumental music through band and orchestra programs in the schools of West Tennessee.
The organization has continually sponsored numerous events such as Marching Festival, Concert Festival, All-West Clinic Groups, and Solo and Ensemble Festivals. This year’s All West Band/Jazz Auditions were held Jan. 18 at North Side High School in Jackson.
“We are really proud of our All West Band clinic and even more proud of our students that are chosen to participate,” said Cupples. “It is an outstanding honor for them and they have worked extremely hard,” she added.
Securing the prized chairs for their instruments in the two (blue and red) bands and the symphony orchestra also means advancing to the Memphis All-West Tennessee Convention in Memphis Feb. 13-15.
There, the following musicians will rehearse with students from across the region and their efforts will culminate in concerts at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts on Friday and Saturday:
• Samantha Bates, clarinet, 8th chair red
• Lucy Oelrich, trombone, 7th chair red
9th-10th grades Senior Band
• Amy Kang, clarinet, 21st chair blue
• Michael Moon, trombone, 4th chair red
• Owen Oelrich, trumpet, 8th chair red
11th-12th grades Senior Band
• Daniel Capua, tenor sax, 1st chair blue
• James McGregor, trumpet, 2nd chair blue
• Jonah Simmons, 2nd chair trumpet
• Isaac Ivy, 1st chair percussion
The top chairs of All West also advance to be a part of All State Band, April 15-18 at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville. Capua, Ivy, and McGregor will be a part of the All State band in April.
Capua and Ivy, both seniors with plans to continue their music studies at the University of Tennessee at Martin, have made the trip to All State two times previously, but didn’t assume their third and final was a given.
The competition is stiff and the positions available are limited, they underscored. Ivy claimed one of only two percussion spots available in the orchestra. Capua plays the saxophone, and All State Band only has one chair for that instrument. He’ll be filling it.
“Though I made All State last year when I was in the 11th grade, you never know who is going to be there,” he explained. “I had to practice.”
Both young men noted that they worked hard to get to the prestigious positions and had been doing so since sixth grade. They also pointed to “great teachers” in Tucker and Cupples and a lot of support from the UTM music department.
The modeling is such that Capua plans on teaching high school band and Ivy would like to teach and pursue a position in an orchestra.
“The world of music has more opportunities than people think it does,” he said adding that his hope is that more people would consider taking up a musical instrument or art form. “It made me a better student. The more I’ve immersed myself in music the better I pay attention. It’s helped me academically,” Capua said.
Cupples points out that competing and placing in All West Tennessee Bands or All State Bands often lead to college scholarships.
Of the more than 2,100 students who auditioned in Jackson, approximately 785 vied for chairs for middle school; 615 for 9th/10th, almost 600 for 11th/12th; and 140 for All West Jazz.
“Even for the ones that audition and do not make the band, competing in this makes them better musicians. That is why we encourage all of our students to audition if they are willing to put in the time to practice. For the ones who are selected, it is an outstanding opportunity for them to perform under outstanding music educators and with students from all over West Tennessee,” noted Cupples.
Editor’s note: Karen Campbell is communications director for Weakley County Schools. She may be contacted by email at Karen.Campbell@wcsk12tn.net.