By Isabella Daley
Every member of the McNicholas band performed at the Ohio Music Education Association’s (OMEA) Solo and Ensemble Ratings on Saturday, Feb. 3. The event was held at Elder High School.
Band director Keith Nance sent band students to the Solo and Ensemble Ratings to perform in eleven different performance groups that ranged from clarinet quartets, to flute solos, to percussion ensembles. Every group from McNicholas received a 1, 2, or 3, all positive ratings, on the OMEA’s 5-point scale.
“We generally do very well at this event,” Nance said, “but the most important thing to me is that [students] enjoy learning new music and performing it.”
The Solo and Ensemble Ratings includes participants from nearly every high school in Hamilton County, but it is not a competition. Students perform for a judge to receive a rating on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is superior and 5 is very poor.
The band students started practicing their pieces for the OMEA ratings when school resumed after Christmas break, and they played their pieces at the annual Catholic Schools’ Week concert several days before they performed for the OMEA judges. The students worked through snow days and short weeks of school in order to prepare, and after performing, many said they felt very proud of how they did. Others wished they had had a little more time to work with their groups, but none were disappointed overall.
Senior Natalie Martinez played in the low brass quartet with freshman Frances Granlund and sophomores Ian Burt and Anna Voet. Martinez said she was glad their ensemble received a 3, a “good” rating, but she would have preferred to receive a slightly higher rating. “My guess is that we just didn’t have enough practice together,” Martinez said. She said that Burt and Voet were in other performance groups in addition to the quartet, so they struggled to find enough time to practice with everyone together. “I thought we still did pretty well even though our score might not have been too stellar,” Martinez said.
Sophomore Elise Nyktas played in both a flute trio and a solo, and she was very happy about the way her group performed. “This is my second year playing a trio with Anna [Voet] and Katie [Limberg]. We play very well together,” Nyktas said. Nyktas, Voet, and Limberg received superior ratings on their trios both this year and in 2017. “I love playing with my friends because I feel that the relationship I have with them has aided me in playing with them. I know their tendencies and I am able to adjust to their playing,” Nyktas said.
“I am very proud that the students put the time in and performed and represented the school,” Nance said. McNicholas sends students to the OMEA ratings every year, but Nance said it is only one of the many events he looks forward to throughout the year.
“I love watching our skills grow each year. We have a ton of fun playing together,” Nyktas said.
Nance also said he hopes that the size of the band will continue to grow in the future and that more students will try new instruments.
Overall, members of the band said they felt the OMEA ratings were a success this year. “I was very happy with everybody’s performance,” Nance said.
All students in the McNicholas band performed for the OMEA Solo and Ensemble ratings at Elder High School on Feb. 3. Their performance groups received “superior,” “excellent,” and “good” ratings on a 5-point scale from superior to very poor.