Isabel Vasquez and Alexandra Rosales sat on benches in the foyer at Thomson High School on Feb. 25, chatting and waiting on their turn to practice.
The Thomson-McDuffie Middle School eighth graders were dressed alike, in white shirts and black pants, their instruments in cases at their feet.
Vasquez plays clarinet and Alexandra plays the trumpet, and both were eager to learn to perform better when it was their turn on stage.
For the 12th consecutive year, band students from throughout McDuffie County and surrounding areas came to the McDuffie County Band Festival looking to sharpen their talents.
The all-day festival gives concert bands and ensembles the opportunity to fine-tune their performances before the 2012 Georgia Large Group Performance Evaluation, which will be held March 16 at Burke County High School.
“Our philosophy is, why work three and four months for just one performance?” said organizer Jessie Morlan, band director at Thomson High School.
In addition to McDuffie County middle and high schoolers, participating bands came from Ogle-thorpe and Washington counties.
Each band performed three pieces and was given a rating of 1 to 3 (1 for superior, 2 for excellent, 3 for good) by each of three judges, who are all music educators.
Bands received plaques with their scores, as well as a positive critique from each judge.
After each performance, bands received a 30-minute workshop with John Wojcik, director of the Wind Ensemble and associate professor of music at Augusta State University.
He offered constructive criticism on each of the three pieces each band performed and offered suggestions for improvement for the bands to work on before the LGPE.
Seventh graders Johnny Welch, 12, and Jonah Lewis, 13, of the Thomson-McDuffie Seventh Grade Concert Band, participated in the festival for the first time Saturday and said they enjoyed the experience.
“I had a good time,” Welch said.
Lewis said he appreciated the differences between Wojcik’s style and his band director, Trent Henderson’s style.
“(Wojcik) goes through one part and stops, and he goes over (the critique) more,” he said.
“But they’re both equal in talent.”