Another fine year for NU’s bands
It may seem like a contradiction to say the Nevada Union High School bands have been quietly doing great things. But that is sometimes the way it seems. While they are not often in the public eye, the NU bands are very busy during every school year.
They are active at a variety of events, including multiple concerts and numerous competitions. They make great music. The collection of trophies and plaques in the band room at Nevada Union High School is more than just impressive. More are added each year.
I personally have no musical abilities, but I enjoy the performance of others, especially when I see that they love what they are doing.
That has been my experience when attending NU band performances. These students have worked hard to build their skills, and they love sharing it with an audience.
During the 2013-2014 school year, band performances included an ice cream social in October, the Christmas concert in December, a spring concert in March, and the annual awards concert in May.
The concert this past December was delightful; a celebration of the season that was both fun and reverent.
The bands took part in two Northern California Bands Association festivals this spring, and the Jazz Band did well competing in Folsom and Santa Cruz. Drumline and color guard competitions took place in the spring at Vallejo, Benicia, Elk Grove, and Del Oro high schools. The Symphonic Band competed at Woodcreek.
It has long been known that developing musical skills is beneficial to the brain and helps boost performance in academic subjects as well. It also adds a special satisfaction to the overall school experience.
Even the most academically advanced students, when reflecting back on their high school years, will say that what was most special or memorable was their time in band or choir.
Involvement in groups like band also helps to develop social skills and confidence. It opens up new relationships and provides a supportive environment that allows young people to blossom and become more comfortable relating to others.
What do students have to say about their experience in band? One student who said that band has helped her become a better musician and that, being naturally a little shy, it has helped her make new friends. She also said, “It is my favorite place to be when I am sad. The band members make me feel better.”
In addition to band being “a home away from home,” one boy pointed out that playing in band has helped him improve his concentration.
Another student said, “Music is like learning another language. Band is fun, but it has also been valuable to learn about a variety of instruments.”
Many students have learned to play several instruments.
A student who commented that his experience has motivated him to pursue music in his future, also shared how the bands are like a big family, and that being in marching band has helped develop his leadership abilities.
Band director Ken Carter works a long day. Along with Jazz Band students, his day begins at 6:30 a.m. During the regular school day, Ken teaches classes in guitar, as well as the concert band and symphonic band. Later, when most NU students are headed home, it is time for the marching band. Then there are more hours for Ken and his students playing at football games, basketball games, and other events.
Every Nevada Union band concert I have attended has had free admission. How can you beat a quality concert for free, with delicious refreshments offered at a very modest price?
Of course, donations to help cover the cost of items such as travel and instrument repairs will always be welcome.
The 2013-2014 year has been another year of skill development, learning and social growth for students. It was been a year of inspiring performances for those who have had the good fortune to attend concerts.
So when school starts again this fall, keep watch for an opportunity to hear the NU bands.
You may need to call the school to get the full schedule of event dates, but you will be glad you did.
John Juneau lives in Nevada County.
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