It must be music to Baily Rose’s ears. Two of his band students at North Lenoir High School, sophomore flutist Sara Jones and junior trombonist Jaylen Joyner, returned from a three-day adventure at the UNCW Honor Band Festival more committed than ever to their music and mastery of their instruments.
“The best part was seeing what you could become,” Sara said of her recent experience on the Wilmington campus, where she, Jaylen and other Honor Band invitees heard, as well as played, concert performances. “You get to see the type of music college students play. The best thing was hearing what the instrument could sound like and learning how to get there.”
For each of the past three years, since Rose arrived, North Lenoir has had three students accepted for the Honor Band Festival. This year, Davion Jones, a flutist, was also scheduled to attend but could not because of family obligations.
“Every year I nominate my top students and just see what happens, because every year you never know what instruments they’re going to be looking for or how many of each,” Rose said.
The festival received about 300 nominations from school band directors, he said, and selected about two-thirds of the students, based in part on director’s comments and the students’ musical history. Once on the UNCW campus, students auditioned for placement in one of two concert bands.
For two days they practiced their concert pieces – taking time out to attend performances by the UNCW Symphonic Band, jazz ensembles and faculty ensembles – and performed to a full house on Dec. 1, the final day of the festival.
“It was amazing to see all those people work together and accomplish that music in a short amount of time,” said Jaylen, who has played trombone since his sixth-grade year at Frink Middle School.
“The reason I liked Honor Band so much was that the music was really, really challenging,” Sara said. “It was really a great experience, especially in such a condensed timeline. It was difficult, but it was also fun to try to learn the music in time for the concert.”
Students worked with Dominic Talanca, UNCW director of bands, and guest conductor David Robinson of Panther Creek High School in Cary, one of the nation’s top high school band directors. At least two of the young musicians came back inspired and devoted to their craft.
“I love playing the trombone,” Jaylen said. “Other than concert band, I like jazz band. I like the jazz style and love to hear other trombones play.”
Like Jaylen, Sara intends to make playing music part of her life. “Right now I plan to become a high school band teacher,” she said. “I definitely want to continue playing.”
Not all of them come back with career plans, but Rose isn’t surprised that his students return from the Honor Band experience energized.
“They get to be in a room with people of like mindset. Everybody wants to be in there and everybody is a good musician because they’ve been selected by their directors,” Rose said. “Being in that atmosphere leads them to want to do better, to want to pursue it further.”