Fort Bragg alto sax player competes for state-wide band
Jamie Staton, 7th grade alto saxophone player, listens to her band director's instructions during practice.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - With their music in hand a month before the concert, musicians will spend time on their own practicing their repertoire. While this may sound like a professional band, in actuality, it is a description of the district band clinic that two Albritton Junior High students qualified for after completing their auditions Jan. 24.
Two days before the concert, the entire band will get together and spend time practicing and studying their music as an
ensemble before their concert. Andrew O'Donnell, an 8th grade bass clarinet player and Jamie Staton, a 7th grade alto saxophone player, both won first chair for their respective instruments in the district band, and will now go on to audition for the North Carolina state band March 7.
"Jamie and Andrew are both excellent musicians," said James Kuczero, Albritton band director, "They are both very mature players compared to most 7th and 8th grade students."
Both students have worked hard to make this achievement possible, spending countless hours practicing their instruments at school and at home as well as taking private lessons.
Staton, who obtained the highest score of any instrument at the district band audition, had the highest sight-reading score and was the only musician to play a perfect solo.
"I practice about an hour a day," said Staton. "I really enjoy hearing everything come together as I play and I like having the ability to express myself with music."
"When I get home I
usually practice from about 4 to 8 p.m.," O'Donnell said. "On Tuesdays I don't practice because I have lessons on Tuesday."
"Most of the kids at the top of the all district band, or the ones that go to all state, take private lessons," explained Kuczero. "Private instruction allows the teacher to focus in on their student's individual needs and develop lessons that focus in on their strengths; their weaknesses."
"My private teacher, Kevin Davis, really helped me a lot to prepare for the district audition," said Staton. "Kevin Davis was also the one who first told me about the audition last year. Normally only 7th and 8th graders go, but I went in 6th grade so that was a little different."
Because O'Donnell and Staton, auditioned for district band last year, they had their own techniques for preparing themselves for auditions this year.
"I have a video camera," explained O'Donnell, "so I record myself playing my scales and solos and then I will listen to it and write down what I need to fix. I will write all over my music and scribble down everything I need to help me play the song better next time."
"I practice a lot," said Staton. "You just have to figure out how to best prepare yourself by relaxing and calming down and just playing the way you usually do."
The time and effort each student put into their audition will pay off in the end during the two-day district band clinic where they will spend two days studying music with clinicians preparing for the final concert.
"It is always fun and exciting. I enjoy having the whole thing come together and hearing how it sounds ... I enjoy participating in the district band because it gives you an experience that you can't get from the school band," said O'Donnell. "It helps knowing that you can be participating in a band that is a higher level than anything you can get at the school."

Page last updated Tue March 3rd, 2009 at 11:14