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‘Nervous’ Morrow band preps for evaluations

Director hopes to show need for arts in schools

Photos by Johnny Jackson 
Ashley World, 15, plays second chair trombone in Morrow High School’s symphonic band. The sophomore is head drum major during marching band season.

Photos by Johnny Jackson Ashley World, 15, plays second chair trombone in Morrow High School’s symphonic band. The sophomore is head drum major during marching band season.

MORROW — The band played to an empty, dark hall Friday.

Stage lights illuminated Morrow High School’s 55-member symphonic band as it performed a morning dress rehearsal in Ernest L. Stroud Hall at the Clayton County Performing Arts Center.

Band director Walter McKelvey said he scheduled the rehearsal to help prepare students for the Georgia Music Educators Association District 6 Large Group Performance Evaluation. Tuesday’s evaluations take place at the Henry County Performing Arts Center, 37 Lemon St. in McDonough.

“Two weeks ago, we were kind of nervous but they’re coming along,” he said.

McKelvey said because of new class scheduling, the band has gotten fewer opportunities to rehearse together. He said practices used to be daily but rehearsals come twice a week these days.

“It’s a necessity in the school system to have the arts in schools because it does so much for the students,” he said. “Our students who are in fine arts, they do well on standardized testing and they learn the value of teamwork.”

Ashley World, 15, is one of those students who has benefited from fine arts. The sophomore is a starter on the varsity ladies basketball team. But she is also the head drum major for the Marching Mustangs and plays second chair trombone.

“It builds up your self-esteem and leadership skills,” said World, who has been in band since fifth grade.

This is her first year in symphonic band, a young group of student musicians who are still developing their technical abilities.

World said the band is still developing and improving on weaknesses like dynamics and musicality.

She said she is excited to perform in the evaluations for the first time in symphonic band. The band will be evaluated in three areas — performances on a warm-up march, a sight-reading exercise and two prepared pieces.

“I’m nervous but I think I will be OK,” said World. “I think we’ll be OK.”