Montgomery Catholic Bands Receive Superior Ratings at Alabama Bandmasters Event

Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School’s 7th grade, 8th grade, and high school concert bands received top marks in the Alabama Bandmasters Association Music Performance Assessment (MPA), an exhibition of middle and high school concert bands. Each ensemble is given a score based on performance of prepared selections and for sight-reading a previously unseen piece of music. This tests not only the skills and musicianship of the band members, but also the directing ability of the teachers leading the bands. For the first time in Montgomery Catholic’s history, all three bands received Superior ratings from all four judges (three stage judges and one sight-reading judge). The bands were graded on several criteria, including tone, technique, interpretation, precision, balance, and stage presence on both the prepared piece and on sight-reading.
“The students in our band are exceptional,” said Mr. Alex Johnson, Director of Bands at MCPS. “They have put in a tremendous amount of effort and dedication, and it came out in this performance. I’m very proud of them all, and I know that they are proud of themselves.”
When asked about the challenge of performing not only pieces they had rehearsed but also sight-reading new material, the students said that they felt nervous, but were ready for the challenge.
“Even though it was intimidating at first, I ended up treating sight-reading like normal band class,” said alto saxophone player Michael Algarin, eighth grade. “We’ve been playing as an ensemble for several months now, so as long as we focus and pay attention we can get through any piece of music together. We already have the skills needed to succeed.”
Junior Bobby Crawford plays trombone in the high school band and felt that sight-reading was also the most challenging part. “It really tests your musicianship, as almost anyone can spend months preparing and fine-tuning a single piece of music. Sight-reading brings out both the individual’s and the ensemble’s ability to quickly process and interpret a score they’ve never seen before and make it into music.”

The Montgomery Catholic band program is under the direction of Mr. Alex Johnson. Mrs. Kristine Johnson, who co-directs the middle and high school bands, also directs the elementary bands and teaches music classes in K4-6th grade at both the Holy Spirit and St. Bede campuses. Construction will begin soon on a fine arts building at the middle and high school campus that will provide a new home for the band program, which has seen tremendous growth over the past decade.

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