Five Students from FHMS Selected for UMKC Honor Band and Orchestra

Posted on 03/07/2018
Five Students from FHMS Selected for UMKC Honor Band and Orchestra

If you live in the Francis Howell School District, you may already know that Francis Howell Middle School boasts perhaps the finest middle school band in the Metro Area. The band recently received some confirmation of their acumen when five of its students were chosen for the University of Missouri-Kansas City Honor Band and Orchestra Festival. Kendal Abeln, Kennedy Adams, Wil Andren, Xavier Flores, and Sarah Marian participated in the event on Feb. 9-11 in Kansas City, Missouri.

During the weekend event, they worked with Flournoy Humphreys from Traverse City Middle School in northern Michigan, along with Dr. Joe Parisi, director of the Conservatory Wind Ensemble. These fantastic young musicians rehearsed and performed with students from Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska. The weekend culminated with a performance by the Middle School Honor Band on Sunday afternoon in White Recital Hall, on the UMKC campus.

FHMS Band Teacher Keely Abeln is one of the best in the business. She doesn’t take this honor for granted. “I love offering this opportunity to my students. UMKC does an incredible job pulling in directors from across the country to work with these students. In one weekend, you have top musicians from schools across the state and even from other states come together to create music. That is music’s strength.”

It was a weekend of beautiful music, but also a lot of learning. Sarah Marian said, “The schedule was busy. It was fun because we got to learn a lot of new things. I loved meeting new people from across Missouri.”

Kendal Abeln cherished the opportunity, “Playing with kids from other schools was fantastic.” And it wasn’t just about meeting and socializing with new people of their age. They were working with other students of similar talents, a truly memorable experience for the kids. Keep in mind that class sizes and limited resources somewhat constrain these FHMS students, so being able to play with a larger group will enhance their chances of future band success.

Xavier Flores saw a great advantage in that. “I got to play with a bigger oboe section,” he said. He had to learn on the fly how to play with a group larger than he was used to. “There were four of them and I had to adjust more.”

In addition, this was a marathon performance compared to what middle school students normally play. Kennedy Adams mentioned, “We played about eight hours on Saturday. All the playing built my endurance as a player.” That will certainly help as her musical career progresses. It was a lot of hard work, but Adams was doing something she loved. It also helped her and the other students that, in her words, “The music choices were fantastic.”

Students also relished the chance to work with a different director, a skill in itself. “The director was great,” said Wil Andren. Playing with the director and a different group of students opened his mind to the importance of adaptability. “The group was very talented and they picked stuff up quickly.”

Keely Abeln summed it up best. “People from different places working together to create something amazing,” she said. “I am glad we could have so many students from Francis Howell Middle School be a part of it.”

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