Posted by Stillwater Christian School at 3/8/2017
This poster of American trumpeter and world-renowned musician Allen Vizzutti has held a key spot on the band room's front wall for several years now. Needless to say, middle school band students were overjoyed to learn from their director, Brian Phillips, that they would have the opportunity to travel to Missoula to not only hear Mr. Vizzutti perform but also to share in a small workshop with him that afternoon.
On Tuesday last week, Stillwater Christian's middle school band members were treated to a day of performance and adjudication, education, and pure enjoyment of music at the University of Montana's concert band festival. SCS has participated in this program for several years, but this was the first time middle school students joined the event that draws students from all over the Northwest.
The afternoon opened with Vizzutti standing before students, sharing both his talents and wisdom in music. He told about his childhood, the musical education he was given by his father and how his instruction at home was basically a continuum of brief, 5-minute lessons or adjustments to his technique. He openly told of the awkwardness of his middle school years and how music helped build his confidence. Remembering the comfort he felt in the band room from an early age, Vizzutti found it to be a place where thankfully every member of the ensemble was on an equal playing ground. He offered practice suggestions and tips to the students, shared some wildly impressive playing exercises, and he spoke with them about character - the importance of being able to relate to others, to be professional, and to perform a job properly. And most of all, he advised the young people to keep music in their lives!
Following the solo time with the artist, festival participants enjoyed performances by the U of M jazz band and wind ensembles, featuring Vizzutti and select university soloists before performing themselves for a panel of adjudicators. The SCS band presented three pieces during their time-slot, and ambitiously they opted to perform selections that are still relatively new to them. Mr. Phillips was pleased, and he greatly appreciated the feedback the group received during the workshop that followed. Middle school ensembles are not given numerical scores in the festival; however, Washington State University's Associate Director of Bands, Dr. Troy Bennefield, spent some time with the group, offering insight about their performance. An excellent opportunity for the students, they received input on dynamics, articulation, and blending of sound and awareness of others in a group, just to name a few points that were addressed during the session.
Thank you, Mr. Phillips, for giving this opportunity to our middle school students. SCS 7th grader Simone Schvaneveldt was just one of the many teens who gratefully commented on the experience. "Listening to Alan Vizzutti inspired me to continue to pursue music. He made reaching the highest notes look so easy. Still, I wonder if I would be so devoted to practice four hours a day!"