CCHS Concert Band Hits A High Note
At Cooper City High School, the Sound of Pride marching band is renowned for getting the crowd on their feet at football games, pumping the fans up as they watch the Cowboys dominate on the field. However, once the final game has ended and another season comes to a close, the band members prepare for the real music to begin. The CCHS concert band is a collective group of the Sound of Pride’s top musicians whose sheer talent has made them a renowned success on the high school music circuit.
The CCHS concert band is a formal orchestra of band students who play both classical and contemporary music in a symphonic setting. The band is made up of two groups: the Wind Ensemble and the Symphonic Band. The Symphonic Band is considered their “junior varsity” group, and the Wind Ensemble their “varsity”, and students are placed in these groups based on their auditions. Even though the band rigorously prepares for marching season throughout the summer and into the fall, the preparation for the concert band season still begins at the start of the school year.
“Even though we have marching band going on for many hours after school, the students continue learn new techniques while sustaining the skills they already have,” band director Chris Schletter said. “Learning to play an instrument is not for the faint of heart. It takes a long time and much dedication to become simply proficient.”
The concert band is very different from the better known marching band. Unlike marching season where the band members must endure countless hours marching and working on their movements in the scorching heat, the concert band takes place inside, sitting on chairs. In the concert band setting, the band members use many of the same instruments as the marching band but the music is the sole focus of the ensemble.
“It’s a more intimate setting with just the student, their instrument, their music, and the ensemble around them,” Schletter said. “In which we ask ourselves, do we have the skills to play beyond the notes and rhythms on the page and bring to the audience the truest performance of the music. This is the real test of a performance: are we saying something through our music that’s worth listening to, because in the end, music is for listening. If it’s not good enough to listen to, it’s not good enough to perform.”
In class, members of the concert band work on key skills that are required for playing music in a setting where there is no movement or pizzazz to distract from the music. The students work on tone, rhythm, fluidity, performance self-evaluation, musical analysis and interpretation. All this work, coupled with the work that is done in the marching program helps the concert band continually improve throughout the school year.
“My favorite thing about the concert band is that we get the same music for months at a time,” senior Giancarlo Pizzino said. “It gives us more time to perfect it.”
The concert band is currently preparing for the Florida Bandmaster’s Association State Concert Band Festival being held in May. In order to make it to the state competition, the concert band first had to do a performance assessment before the Florida Bandmaster’s Association (FBA). These assessments measure how well the program is doing. Each band that performs receives a rating from Superior to Poor. Both the Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble received straight Superior ratings from all judges, and they were one of only three high school Symphonic Bands to received straight superiors. This allowed them to move forward to the state competition.
“We have high hopes for this concert season,” senior Sarah Sukkar said. “We have been working very hard and the memories that I have made from the day to day events will stay with me for the rest of my life.”
Despite their undeniable success, the concert band is one of the schools best kept secrets. Their performances usually consist of parents and a few alumni, with rarely a single student in the audience. This is mainly due to the fact that the concert band is not as visible as the marching band since the marching band can be heard every Friday night during football season, and their shows are looked at as being one of the highlights of the game. However, with the amount of time and effort that the concert band puts into every piece of music that they play, they deserve the utmost recognition from everyone at CCHS.
“It would be amazing to see several students that are not in band come show their support and hear some fantastic music,” Schletter said. “After all, who doesn’t like good music?”
The CCHS concert band is one of the most talented organizations at the school, and the undeniable beauty of their work can often be heard echoing through the campus’s empty halls after hours. What they do is pure art and there is no doubt that they will do Cooper City proud at their upcoming state competition.
“As long as my students put forth their best effort, then we can make their best even better. Isn’t that was life is all about? Putting forth our best effort in all we do and then trying to figure out how to make ourselves even better?”
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