Three hundred students throughout southern New Jersey auditioned for the All South Jersey Junior High Honors Band, and only 190 of them made it, including seven students from the Richard M. Teitelman Middle School in Lower Township.
Music teacher and band instructor at RMT Middle School, Bethany Wiberg, has been encouraging her students to audition for the honors band since she started at the school six years ago.
"When it comes to the audition aspect of this, I want them to have the experience of being put on the spot," Wiberg said. "I want them to take something from (the experience)."
Devon Manna, 13, clarinet, Shane Manna, 13, trumpet, Maryam Nasr, 13, bass clarinet, Haley Christopher, 13, French horn, Maura Olivero, 12, trumpet, Katya Simonsen, 13, baritone saxophone, and Janel Concepcion, 13, flute, are the students who made this year's honors band.
Seven is the highest number of students that Wiberg has sent to perform in the honors band. Last year, four were accepted.
"I always want more to represent us down here," Wiberg said. "We have a really good music department down here, and we have a lot to offer."
In a private audition with honors band judges, each student is required to perform a solo, memorize 10 scales and sight read a piece of music selected by the judges. The students can read sheet music for the solo, but they are quizzed on only four scales out of the 10 they memorized.
All but one of Wiberg's students agreed that memorizing and performing the scales was the most nerve-wracking portion of the audition process.
"(Scales) are difficult when their nerves start going and they start blanking out," Wiberg said.
Katya Simonsen, who plays the baritone saxophone, said she is a little nervous about playing with other students.
"Everyone is very good," she said. "And I don't want to embarrass myself."
Typically, there are fewer baritone saxophones in an ensemble than there are of other instruments, which might make them more distinguishable.
But Wiberg stresses that the experience of playing with an honors band is worth the nervousness.
"As young musicians, the students may not understand all that they're taking away from the experience until they look back on it years from now," Wiberg said. "Even if the students audition and don't make the ensemble, they are going to learn from the process and be able to use that in other aspects of their life."
Wiberg said she makes the students do a mock audition with her before they go on to the real thing. Then, she said, they discuss how the students have grown as musicians and what areas of their playing they need to work on.
"Just do not wait until last minute to practice scales," Hayley Christopher said. "Do not."
This year, the All South Jersey Junior High Honors Band Concert and is being hosted by the Lower Cape May Regional School District and will be held in the high school's Performing Arts Center.
"I'm excited for us hosting," Wiberg said. "We have such a great venue. We tend to get forgotten down (in Lower Township)."
Contact Devin Loring:
If you go
All South Jersey Junior High Honors Band Concert
Lower Cape May Regional High School Performing Arts Center, 687 Route 9, Lower Township
3 p.m. March 2
$8 adults and $5 students/seniors
The concert is open to the public and tickets can be purchased at the door.