The Baker Orange

Honor band festival provides recruiting opportunity

Story by Sarah Baker, Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

The Baker University band room may seem a bit chaotic on Feb. 13 as 120 area high school students practice together for the first and only time.

“As I always tell them, this is the only time this band will play together,” Director of Bands Ray James said. “Because never again will that group be together.”

Every year, the best and brightest musicians from area high schools come to Baker to play together as the honor band.

“Baker Honor Band is an opportunity for my students to play alongside of other highly motivated musicians from the area with an excellent conductor,” Will Cooper, instrumental music director for Baldwin High School, said. “It gives my students a chance to see how they stack up among area students.”

Cooper has sent students to the honor band festival for the past 16 years. This year he is sending nine.

“Some like the competitive aspect of the auditions or working with a different director or meeting with other students,” Cooper said.

Averaging about 100 students per year, the event usually draws in two or three future Baker students.

“The idea is to increase music education,” James said. “And hopefully recruit onto our campus more students that are going to be involved in band. Not necessarily music majors … but those that will be involved in music and take it when they graduate here and use it afterwards.”

Each year, James hires a clinician to work with the students. Usually the clinician is a college director.

“We have never repeated directors … and I don’t think we have ever had a bad one,” James said. “I basically handpick them.”

The honor band festival began shortly after James started as director of bands 17 years ago.

“The overall goal is to make the area bands better,” James said. “I want the students to have a good, positive experience.”

Compared to previous honor band festivals, there are 20 or 30 more students attending this year. James can only invite about six or seven students from each school. This year he expects to have students from 15 high schools participate.

“It involves more students, and that is what it’s about,” James said.

That evening, the students will get to watch the Baker Symphonic Winds play before they take the stage themselves.

“While we’ve got those students here, I want them to hear the Baker band and how they play, so they want to come and join us,” James said.

The 16th Annual Concert Honor Band Festival will conclude with a concert at 7 p.m. on Feb. 13 in Rice Auditorium.