Sanford band teams up with South for breathtaking performance

Cole Nicholls, Staff Writer

If you attended the South Band concert on November 13th, you might have noticed something a little different about the performers. Accompanying the usual high school crowd was a group of instrumentalists, a little bit shorter than the rest, playing their hearts out up on stage. These were students in the Sanford band, playing at South during a period of large renovations happening at their middle school. They’re turning their old gym into a new band room, and building a sparkling new gym. But along with this big gain came a big problem for the Sanford band.

“Renovations started December 14th, [2014] so halfway through the school year we had to move all of our equipment out of the band room. We had to figure out what to move into the auditorium, and what we could store,” said Scott Erickson, the band teacher at Sanford.

Though the move was tough, he felt that the hard work required from all the members of the program “built community”. However, after working out storage, they were immediately faced with another dilemma.

“We can’t perform in the auditorium because the Fire Marshall says all the exits need to be unobstructed, and all of our exits lead into construction,” Erickson explained. “So we had to figure out somewhere else to perform.”

Concert Band is the only Sanford band that meets every day for the whole school year, so they especially needed to have a space to perform regularly.

Erickson decided to ask large high schools in the area if they had performance space available. “I just e-mailed Mr. Sayre at South and Mr. Wilson at Roosevelt, and I said ‘do you guys have any concerts that we could come and play at?’” He learned that Roosevelt is under construction itself right now, so South was chosen as the destination.

“Mr. Sayre was really gracious,” Erickson gushed. “He was actually the one who suggested we play a piece together.” The teachers agreed on a piece, but because of scheduling restrictions, the two ensembles were only able to play it together twice: once to get the feel of the piece, and once right before the fateful performance.

Freshman and Symphonic Band member Sten Bulander initially had reservations about playing with a middle school group. “I felt a little bit of frustration because I thought, this is such an interesting piece, and now we’re gonna have to accommodate to the middle schoolers,” he expressed. At first, his suspicions seemed to be confirmed. “At the initial rehearsal, we had to slow down.”

But Erickson was deadset on making sure that Symphonic Band didn’t have to “play down” to the Sanford band. Though the process was difficult, he said it was “very measured and carefully done.”

At the last rehearsal, Bulander ended up being surprised at how much the Sanford ensemble had improved. “Before the concert, we all got up to the original practice speed. Everyone seemed really comfortable with the piece.”

During the performance, “middle schoolers were encouraged to sit among the high school kids,” said Mr. Erickson. Camaraderie and acceptance was the general mood of the room. “All of the high schoolers were encouraging, very positive stuff,” he said, beaming a smile.

Overall, the experience was “very fulfilling,” reflected Mr. Erickson. “[Playing with high schoolers] shows our band the possibilities…They can do everything, incorporate all the details. My students see that, and they want get to a point where they’re capable of that.”
Erickson felt like the possibilities to continue this venture were endless. He wants to do the same thing throughout this year and next, with Roosevelt and then South.