It wasn’t the first time the Jacksonville High School 11th-grader had found herself on stage with the elite group chosen for junior high and senior high sections of the Honor Band. The petite first-chair trumpeter has been a part of the county’s Honor Band since her junior high days and though Nelson has performed in the concerts annually for several years, she said she hasn’t lost her zeal for the event.
“It’s really an amazing feeling to be one of the best in the county,” Nelson said.
The Calhoun County Honor Band concerts are played each year by students in junior high and senior high divisions. Students selected for the bands are considered the “cream of the crop” among their peers.
The Junior High School Honor Band was lead by guest conductor Gena Nix, a JSU graduate and band director at Gaston School. The High School Honor Band was conducted by SSG Tony Inglis, her brother; both had been chosen several months ago to lead their respective bands.
Friday, students received sheet music for the performance. They were also guided through just three rehearsals before the Saturday afternoon concerts.
“It’s kind of stressful getting a new piece of music that looks intimidating, but it’s exciting in the end to see what you accomplish,” Nelson said.
About 600 people, many relatives of the students, attended the performance.
Nelson and two other area high school students, Nick Wyville, a freshman at Alexandria High School and Dallas Bedford, a senior at Weaver High School, said one of the best things about the honor band is being around like-minded musicians their own age.
“You make your own network of friends,” Nelson said.
The trio of first chair band members said while at rehearsals they exchanged technical tips with their peers. Participation can have a long-term impact, too, some directors said.
Several area band directors were once part of honor bands, Inglis and Weaver High School Band Director Jared Holland said during a rehearsal Friday. All around them students in tennis shoes, Toms and one wearing a turtle-shell backpack were getting ready to play, focused on seeing friends and learning new music. Looking over the scene, the directors saw the broader perspective — how achievement in musicianship crosses professional generations as students become teachers or performers.
“It definitely helps you to see that there is a future here,” Holland said.
Staff writer Laura Johnson: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.