KINGMAN - For the third year in a row, students at Kingman Middle School were selected to the Arizona Music Educators Association's All-State Honor Band Festival.
On Friday, eighth-grader Darlea Guthrie, seventh-grader Cherry Niel, seventh-grader Paulina Delgado and sixth-grader Aly Rossi were honored for the selection to this year's festival.
This is the second year Darlea and Paulina have been selected.
"It was really cool," Darlea said. "I got to meet a lot of people."
Darlea has been selected to play the clarinet. She will join more than 120 eighth-graders at the festival.
Darlea said her mind is more at ease heading into the festival on March 20 to 21 at Higley High in Gilbert than last year.
"It was scary because I was the only seventh-grader that got to go from our band," Darlea said.
Paulina shared Darlea's feelings following last year's festival.
"It was exciting," she said. "I didn't know what to expect."
Paulina said she was happy to be selected again. Darlea and Paulina will be able to share their insight with first-timers Aly and Cherry.
Aly has been selected for clarinet. She will join around 100 other six-graders at the festival.
"I'm excited," Aly said.
Cherry will join around 130 seventh-grade students at the festival. She plays the bassoon.
"I'm surprised," she said, "because I've only been playing for a year on that instrument."
The students will receive festival music from the state coordinators in early January. They must sign commitment forms attesting to their willingness to practice the music at home individually and after school at least four times with their school band director.
"Many students opt to meet personally with their band director or private music instructor for added help," said KMS Band Director Julie Gragg. "The level of music difficulty is usually at least one grade higher than a normal Arizona middle school band student performs in their home band."
The 2009 Arizona Music Educators Association's All-State Honor Band Festival represents the best of the best middle school musicians across the state, she said.
"In my 19 years, this is only our third year to be selected," Gragg said.
In 2007, one eighth-grade clarinetist was selected. In 2008, one eighth-grade clarinetist, one eighth-grade French horn player and Darlea and Paulina were selected.
"Past participants have been in awe of the high caliber of playing skills of the All-State Honor Band participants," Gragg said. "KMS representatives join the state's best middle school musicians. The level of music difficulty heightens the intensity of KMS's musical experiences."
Through teacher submission, the state panel chose students based upon technical skills, musical aptitude and school band experience. Students are expected to have a high level of playing skills in scales, etudes and band literature, meet specific playing criteria, have participated in adjudication settings appropriate for their grade level, and be actively involved in a variety of facets of their school's band program.
For KMS, festival registration and lodging have been paid for with tax credit donations. Through district funding, school funds are used to pay for the use of a district vehicle to transport the students and Gragg.
The Arizona Music Educators Association's All-State Middle School Band Festival has been in existence since the 1970s, Gragg said.
"Placement in this prestigious group truly reflects the incredible musical talent of these Kingman youth," Gragg said.