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BCHS band scoring big at competitions
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BCHS band scoring big at competitions

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The Pride of Bland County Marching Band racked up at a recent band festival, taking home a bevy of first-place and best-band awards. The band earned the honors earlier this month during the 45th Annual Lonesome Pine Band Festival, held at Central High School in Norton.

Among the awards was top competitive music score for all bands, best in all classes and the top rating possible given to any band: a Division I overall rating of superior.

“This was the highest and absolute best division rating a high school marching band can achieve,” said Jared Perdue, band director. “The award that really stood out for our marching band was the 2021 Reserve Grand Champion. Not only did we win our individual class, but our band got the second highest score of the entire day.”

In addition to the awards won in Norton, the band excelled during the 2021 George Wythe Band Festival held this month at George Wythe High School in Wytheville. Once again, the band brought home a slew of honors, mostly first-place finishes and best band awards.

In addition, Perdue received the 2021 Dale Hedrick Leadership Award at the GWHS competition. This award is given to band directors who embody the ideals of the late Dale Hedrick, longtime GWHS band director who dedicated his life to his band students, his band program, and music education in Southwest Virginia.

It’s been two big competitions for the band. Perdue said one reason the band is performing so well because it does its best to focus on quality.

“Our music program especially works tremendously hard, both during the school day, after school, at home, at rehearsals throughout the year, and at summer band camps,” the band director said. “Their achievements and their latest numerous awards are part of a long tradition of hard work, high expectations, and truly spectacular individual and group student efforts. We work to continually improve, both as a band, and as people.”

The Lonesome Pine Band Festival was the band’s first competition since the Covid pandemic, and the first time the band was able to travel for a competition since 2019. But throughout the pandemic, the band has worked to improve.

“We have great kids in Bland County, and our marching band students are no exception,” Perdue said. “They practice all year to be the best musicians they can be. They’ve done that for years, and they continue to work hard – even through the pandemic. They kept working, even when it wasn’t easy. That dedication has continued to pay off for our Pride of Bland County Marching Band, and we couldn’t be prouder of what they’ve been able to achieve.”

BCHS Principal Tyler Eastep said the school’s band program simply gets it done.

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“Programs like what Mr. Perdue has built doesn't just happen overnight. It takes a community. It takes financial support. It takes all and many more of those things to be successful,” Eastep said. “But our band doesn't want to just be successful. We want to be elite. Elite programs require the little things to be done with great precision. Mr. Perdue has mastered the little things. He is immersed in his work, in our band program, and he demands a high level of competitiveness from our students. We are extremely lucky to have him at the helm of our band program and leading our school's music department.”

During the competitions, bands are judged on these categories: music, marching, general effect, drum major, color guard and percussion. Bands are also given an overall score; division rating of superior, excellent, good, or poor; and compete for rankings in their class, and overall ratings on the day in individual captions, and as an entire band.

Judges include music professionals, band directors, qualified instructors, and even college and university professors and directors of bands.

The BCHS band’s music judge for the Lonesome Pine Band Festival was Matthew D. Frederick, associate provost and dean of academic affairs, director of bands and associate professor of trumpet and music at Emory & Henry College. After the competition, Frederick emailed Perdue to compliment the band.

BCHS students can start band in seventh grade, when they begin to learn how to play their instruments. Next, they can participate in more music and band classes, including Marching Band from 8th-12th grades.

Currently, there are about 30 members of the Pride of Bland County Marching Band.

“As the Bland County director of bands, it is my wish that through a love of music, children will develop responsibility, self-discipline, improved self-concept, respect for others, and many other social and educational values in a supportive and uplifting group environment,” Perdue said. “Band is fun, it’s educational, and it’s worth it. Not only do students get to learn how to play an instrument, learn varying styles of music, get to travel, compete, go on trips, meet new friends, and represent their band and school at events around the state - but they get to do so with an activity that can enrich their lives for the rest of their lives.”

Perdue said music makes students smarter and better-rounded, improves academic achievement, lowers stress levels, encourages self-expression, and provides positive socialization. Music classes also teach life skills, discipline, a positive work ethic, and collaboration, he added. Plus, it gives students a positive outlet that can transform their lives for the better.

“The importance of a strong music education and participation in band and the performing arts cannot be understated,” Perdue said.

The Pride of Bland County won these awards during the 45th Annual Lonesome Pine Band Festival: 1st place Music, 1st place Marching, 1st place General Effect, 1st place Percussion, 1st place Color Guard, 2nd place Drum Major, 1st place Band overall in class A-1, Best Band in Class A-1, Best Band in Class A-2, Best Band in Class 2A.

Also, superior ratings in Music, Marching, GE, Color Guard, and Drum Major; Second-place competitive band overall regardless of competitive class, school size, or Band size; 2021 Reserve Grand Champion Award; and top competitive music score of all bands- best in all classes; and Division I overall rating of superior.

To reach reporter Millie Rothrock, call 276-228-6611, ext. 573, or email mrothrock@wythenews.com.

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