SPOTSWOOD, NJ - The Spotswood High School Cafetorium was alive with the sounds of musical notes from the Appleby Elementary School's annual Spring Band Concert on Monday, May 16. Under the direction of Michael Bartlett, Appleby's Director of Bands, the school's Fourth and Fifth Grade Bands showcased their developing talents. Bartlett noted later in the performance that the 130 musicians, when the two bands are combined, are the second largest group that he's conducted in his 12-year tenure as Appleby's band director.

The Fourth Grade Band was introduced to the flute, trombone, clarinet, trumpet and percussion instruments early in the fall at Band Night. Students were given the opportunity to try all the above mentioned instruments in order to find the right personal fit.

At the Spring Band Concert, the group performed four selections, including "Band on Parade," "Uptown Strut," "Jester Dance" and James Swearingen's "Soaring Above the Clouds."

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Afterwards, it was the Fifth Grade Band's turn to show off their skills. Last week they performed along with other Central Jersey elementary and middle school bands at a musical festival and received favorable marks for their performance. The Fifth Grade Band's repertoire included "Fanfare on a Theme of Imagination," "Surge," "The Distant Castle" and the lively "Star Wars" (Main Title).

Prior to each piece, individual students from both bands gave the audience a bit of backstory on the musical selections. Spotswood High School freshman and Appleby Band alumnus, Megan McCook, served as the student assistant for both bands. McCook plays the trombone and has since the fourth grade. She is a member of the Spotswood High School Pep Band, Concert Band and Honors Wind Ensemble.

The Spring Band Concert concluded with both the Fourth and Fifth Grade Bands combining on two pieces. It took a few minutes for McCook and fellow SHS classmates to rearrange the chairs to accommodate the 130 young musicians on the stage. The bands performed Michael Sweeney's "Power Rock" and Brad Schoener's "Ode to Louie."

Bartlett's program at Appleby sets the foundation for the Spotswood School District's band program. Christina Restine will be meeting with the fifth grade band members on June 1 to introduce them to the Memorial Middle School's band program, which includes concert and jazz bands. Restine is the musical director at the Memorial Middle School. The Milltown native is a product of the music program at Spotswood High School.

Sarah Carino-Koza is the band director at Spotswood High School where students can move on from eighth grade in both Memorial and the Joyce Kilmer School in Milltown to a whole host of musical opportunities including Concert Band, Pep Band, Jazz Band and Honors Wind Ensemble. Students must audition to play in the Jazz Band and the Honors Wind Ensemble.

Even though the annual Spring Band Concert signals the impending end of the school year, Bartlett will continue to conduct weekly instrumental group lessons with the burgeoning musicians who took their bows before leaving the stage with smiles.