WIESBADEN, Germany - More than 170 middle school students from across the Heidelberg School District shared in some heavy sighs, tensed arm muscles and the occasional grimace from a screeching musical note.

Wiesbaden Middle School music director, Jena Hancock, grinned as the large group attempted to play "The Legend of Zorro" - a difficult piece with constantly changing meters and tempos.

The song - one of six songs the group would play together - needed work. A lot of work.

But Hancock just smiled. Nothing brings a group of students together like the daunting task of perfecting a thousand musical notes.

The 2011 Heidelberg School District Middle School Honor Band met, practiced and performed a concert all in the span of two days at the Wiesbaden Middle School March 9-10.

"It's just great to see another cello," said Wiesbaden sixth-grader Anisa Nash as she worked with sixth-grader Katie Viana, from Boeblingen Elementary/Middle School, to tune their instruments - dark-stained three-quarter cellos.

The honor band had only four students who played the cello.

Nash and Viana shared a knowing smile as they lugged their miniature cellos back into the Wiesbaden Middle School auditorium.

At the end of a line of saxophone players, Robinson Barracks Elementary/Middle School seventh-grader Galvin McCall focused on his sheet music as the band directors - one from each school - took their turns leading the youths.

"I came last year and played the clarinet," said McCall, who now plays the tenor saxophone. "It's hard adjusting (to a new instrument) but this is fun."

The middle school honor band program is in its sixth year and has gotten bigger every year, said Hancock.

Rehearsals included master classes where students were given one-on-one instruction on some of the more difficult musical pieces.

The rows of instrument wielding students also included a few professionals from the 1st Armored Division Band, community members and high school students.

"It's a really fun combination of music with how it all flows together," said Wiesbaden Middle School seventh-grader Lauren Brashear, a baritone saxophone player.

As the group wrapped up its first run-through of the concert program March 9, Brashear admitted that the hardest part of playing an instrument and preparing for a concert was the practice - "playing the same song over and over again."

"It's boring when you practice alone, but in a group it makes it fun again," said Brashear.