Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Julie Rich
Special to the Courier 

Solo and ensemble festival at Sunset Middle School


March 23, 2018

Photo by Julie Rich From left, eighth-grade band students Megan Zingerman and Sammy Rich receive instruction from band teacher Myron Whisman.

The sound of music filled the hallways at Sunset Middle School on Feb. 24 as band students warmed up for their District Solo and Ensemble performances. The festival has been an annual event for choir, band and orchestra students for over 40 years — originally held at Longmont High School, but now hosted at Sunset Middle School.

Sunset’s band teacher Myron Whisman performed in it when he was in junior high school. The festival format has changed over the years, but the one constant has been the music and singing.

The festival is open to seventh and eighth graders. The process begins with students deciding on a group for a duet, trio or quartet or choosing to perform a solo. They then work closely with their teachers to find the right piece of music or song to perform. For band students, this decision comes with consideration of instruments and students ability.

Students are responsible for preparation and practicing their piece along with keeping up on their current music for grade level performances.

“It teaches students to play independently and gives them confidence to do so,” Whisman said. “In a large group it is easy to just blend in with the other students in the section, but when you are playing a duet and are responsible for half of the music, that is different than the other part. You are forced to be independent and that is a great lesson for students to learn. I think students have fun working with their friends to put the music together and they feel a real sense of accomplishment after their performance.”

Band students are judged on their performance by Niwot High School’s band teacher Wade Hendricks, which provides an opportunity for parents and students to see how he teaches and bridges the transition from middle school band to high school band.

Over the years Whisman has managed nearly 900 performances. His love of music and teaching the children has been evident at Sunset Middle School, and students and parents are grateful for his dedication and passion to his craft.


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