Young concert bands performing at a festival next week at Scarborough High School won’t be taking home any prizes.

Tangible ones, anyway. The rewards, band directors agree, are in the feedback and the experience.

Fourteen schools are expected to bring up to three bands apiece – concert, symphonic, wind ensemble – to the 20th annual Maine Band Directors’ Association Concert Festival on April 2. Each band will perform for 20 minutes.

Bands will play to learn what they do well and ways they can improve, said Scarborough High School band director Renee Richardson.

“The great thing about this festival is hearing from another band director,” Richardson said. “I can tell my students something, but hearing perhaps the same thing from another band director just solidifies what we’ve been teaching. They go home knowing how they did and the feedback is instant.”

Judges, who are high school and college band directors, will score each band on technical ability, sound and difficulty of song, Richardson said.

After performing, each band will sit with at least one of the judges to receive feedback.

“The scores are not published,” Richardson said. “The band director knows what the scores are and shares it with the band. The students go home knowing how they did, and then they (also) get the clinic with a director who has the experience of working with a lot of top-level bands.”

The festival began in 1989, the brainchild of former Old Orchard Beach High School band director Marilyn Goodnite. Goodnite wanted a concert to promote music in Maine, Richardson said.

In 1999, Goodnite moved to Connecticut, but the festival lives on in Scarborough, where the concert has been held for the past 10 years.

“We just love doing this,” Richardson said. “We have a good facility, and it’s just an exciting two days of music.”

The festival also gives concert bands the chance to perform in a more competitive setting, said David Graichen, president of the Maine Band Directors’ Association.

He said that jazz bands and marching bands have competitive events, but symphonic and concert bands don’t usually get that opportunity. This event allows the young musicians to compare themselves with other Maine bands.

The festival also gives band members greater musical understanding and appreciation, Graichen said.

“Students get a chance to perform for recognized music professionals who will give them feedback about their performance and offer insights into how to be more musical through interpretation,” Graichen said.

“It is not enough to pick up an instrument and just blow air through it or hit it with a pair of drum sticks,” said Graichen. “One of the hardest things to do is to interpret things in music that can’t be written on a page.”

On April 2, the first band will perform at 1 p.m. and the last will go on stage at 9 p.m. On April 3, the first band will perform at 1:30 p.m. and the last at 4 p.m.

The event is open to the public. Admission is $3 for students and seniors, $5 for adults and $15 for families.

Matthew Doiron, vice president of the MBDA, said the musicians enjoy the festival because it advocates keeping music alive in Maine’s academic world.

“With all the emphasis on testing, it is important for ensembles to be able to receive critical feedback from experts in our field,” he said.

Also, he noted, “It provides all participating schools with an opportunity to perform in an outstanding auditorium.”

Scarborough flutist Jessie Solender rehearses on with the schoolThe Scarborough High School wind ensemble rehearses on Monday morning. It is preparing for the 20th annual Maine Band Concert Association Concert Festival scheduled for April 2 and 3.


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