Most high school band directors would be delighted to know that just one of their students had been invited to be a member of an honor band.
Davis High band director Tom Slabaugh learned that eight of his band students beat out hundreds of competitors and made it into two of the most highly sought-after honor bands in the state.
“That’s an exceptional showing,” Slabaugh said.
Eight students — Alex Monticello, Andy Miller, Conor Lee-Smith, Liz Lee, McKenzie Busch, Ross Kelly, Will Ebeler and Seunghyun Kim — made it through the tough audition phase and were invited to be members of the Northern Califronia Band Association’s All Northern Honor Bands.
Ebeler and Kelly were selected for the California Band Directors Association’s All State Honor Band, the premier band for young musicians in California, chosen from recorded auditions of students from throughout the state.
“What made it even more impressive,” Slabaugh said, “was that Will made it on trumpet, and Ross on (French) horn. Those are two very popular instruments — especially the trumpet.”
To be selected for an honor band, students submit a recorded audition that goes through a rigorous judging process. Those who make it through the audition phase spend a full weekend with other first-class musicians practicing and learning from well-known and highly respected conductors. Typically, the weekend of intense musical activity culminates in a performance on Sunday afternoon.
This year, the guest conductor for the Northern Honor High School Band is Robert Halseth from Sacramento State University. The session will be Feb. 7-9 at Humboldt State.
Apart from the obvious pride in the students, Slabaugh also likes to point out that the accomplishment of those eight students reflects not only on them but on the overall support for music in the Davis community.
“It means there’s a lot of dedication and that they have great support: from the classroom, to the home, to private teaching,” he notes. “You can’t do it without all three elements.”