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Fallston Music Tackles Assessments!

Photo courtesy of dreamstime.com
Photo courtesy of dreamstime.com

 This week, the Fallston Music Department headed to Havre De Grace High School to be assessed on selected music that they have worked on diligently this year. Advanced Chorus, Symphonic Band, and Orchestra prepared three pieces each to be judged by Harford County Music Administration. Fallston musicians were also given the opportunity to watch other schools from around Harford County perform. 

“I think [assessments are] to see how we can do under pressure, but also to get perspectives from people who are professionals in the field. Everybody who judges us are other band directors at either the college or high school level,” says FHS band director, Mrs. Breidenbaugh. While it can be intimidating, it is always extremely helpful to get the outlook of another professional so that ensembles can constantly improve. 

Students practice their pieces for assessments relentlessly, running them dozens of times. Symphonic Band even had a guest conductor, Mark Lortz, come into class to help them with one of their pieces! 

Assessments can be a long, but exciting process. When students arrive at Havre De Grace High School, they are seated in the auditorium to watch at least three other schools perform their music. Then, students and their music director are taken to a warmup room, where they can prepare for their performance. Then, they take the stage. Each school is to prepare a warmup piece and two pieces to be assessed on.  

The Symphonic Band warmed up with “Allegory” by Michael Kamuf, conducted by Jonas Mendoza. They then played “Halcyon Hearts” by Katahj Copley and “The Heart of Madness” by Mark Lortz.  

The Advanced Chorus warmed up with “All I Ask of You” by Andrew Lloyd Webber, then performed “Set Me as a Seal” by Richard Nance, with Mrs. Stout on piano and Claire Dunn on viola, and “Musicks Empire” by Lloyd Pfautsch. “I was really proud of the poise that students had while on stage and the way everyone was able to recover when nerves threatened us,” said Chorus and Orchestra Director, Ms. Stout. “We were also able to sing a level 5 piece which is a HUGE accomplishment! We were one of two groups who performed a piece at this level.” 

The orchestra warmed up with Brandenburg Concert No. 3 by Bach, then performed Fire Dance by Soon Hee Newbold, and The Odyssey by Soon Hee Newbold. Mrs. Stout praises her students, saying “students did an incredible job sticking together and encouraging each other.”  

After their performance, students are led into another room, where they participate in both rhythmic and melodic sight reading. Teachers were not allowed to help during the sight readings, although students were able to help each other during the melodic sight reading. 

The group’s final scores are accumulated from both their performance and sight readings, with a 1 being the highest score and a 5 being the lowest.  For the sight-reading portion, band received a 1, chorus received a 3, and orchestra received a 1 

Overall, all ensembles were extremely successful this year, as all of Fallston’s ensembles received a 2. When an ensemble receives a 1, they are eligible to compete in States, making Fallston’s ensembles extremely close to gaining this privilege! 

“In comparing last year and this year, they have improved, which is awesome,” says Mrs. Breidenbaugh. To her students, she says that she is “incredibly proud of them.”  

Assessments are the highlight of many music students’ years and are a great way to receive feedback and immerse oneself in music. Congratulations to the music department for their hard work and achievements! 

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About the Contributor
Juliana Vendetti, Staff Reporter
This is Jules’s first year as a journalist with The Print! Other than writing, her biggest passions include singing, acting, and teaching. She is currently President of the FHS Drama Company and can be found performing in community theatre outside of school as well. Shes also a cake decorator, performs as a party princess for children’s parties, and sings for St. Matthew Lutheran Church. She has always loved writing and is thrilled to be a member of The Print 
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