Arts & Entertainment

Spotswood's District Band Night Takes Center Stage

The Spotswood High School and Memorial Middle School Jazz Bands perform at District Band Night. Credits: Dawn Miller
The Spotswood High School Jazz Band gets ready for their next number. Credits: Dawn Miller
The Spotswood High School Honors Wind Ensemble performs with students from Memorial Middle School and the Joyce Kilmer School. Credits: Dawn Miller
SHS Band Director Sarah Carino-Koza directs students during District Band Night. Credits: Dawn Miller

SPOTSWOOD, NJ - The Spotswood High School Honors Wind Emsemble and the Jazz Band came together with members from Spotswood's Memorial Middle School and Milltown's Joyce Kilmer School for the eleventh annual District Band Night yesterday. The idea to bring together middle schoolers with members of the high school band began at a meeting in 2005 and took off from there.

"The music departments from Spotswood and Milltown collaborated on an idea for an experience that would serve as a bridge for middle school musicians to smoothly transition to high school, as well as one that would introduce their parents to the Spotswood Band Parent Association in a way that would allow incoming parents to feel part of the organization before their children entered high school," explained Spotswood High School Band Director Sarah Carino-Koza via email.

Carino-Koza has been the band director at Spotswood High School for the past 13 years. "We adapted the previous experience, which was an informal rehearsal and meet-and-greet between high school and middle school band students, to include a performance element for the students and an opportunity for middle school band parents to learn about the role of of the SBPA in the high school band program," Carino-Koza continued. "Many high school band students reflect on the impact that District Bands Night had on them, and the part that it played in their decision to continue with Band in high school; and, we've found that parents are eager to volunteer as freshmen parents, as they already feel a sense of ownership in the program. Through the years, it has grown and evolved into a true shared learning experience for students and parents alike."

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Last night's performance opened with the Memorial Middle School and the Spotswood High School Jazz Bands joining forces on Herbie Hancock's "Chameleon." Memorial Middle School's Band Director Christina Restine directed the group on the funk classic. Restine is a graduate of Spotswood High School and a product of the music education in the district. She is also of former student of Carino-Koza.

Next, the SHS Jazz Band took center stage with two toe-tapping numbers, "Night Train" and "Uptown Funk."

After a brief intermission to set up the main stage, the SHS Honors Wind Ensemble got set to perform Hector Berlioz's "March to the Scaffold" with middle school band members from both the Memorial Middle School and the Joyce Kilmer School. The students had never played the piece together before.

Students audition to be a part of the Honors Wind Ensemble program. The group performed the piece alone first before adding the middle schoolers. Prior to playing, Carino-Koza who also directed the piece, discussed the meaning behind the rather dark melody.

Parents were able to get a glimpse into how a band rehearsal is run as Carino-Koza went through the music, focusing on different elements before the three bands played Berlioz's piece together all the way through.

The delightfully inspiring evening of music concluded with the Honors Wind Ensemble peforming a compilation of John Williams' iconic Star Wars music. Williams' score was the essential component of the Spotswood High School Band's annual Winter Concert that took place on December 11.

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