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PMS band to compete in VA concert festival

On Saturday, Janet Longerbeam will travel to Southwest Virginia Community College in Richlands with about 60 of the young musicians she teaches as band director at Pulaski Middle School.
There, the students will compete in the annual Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors Association’s district concert festival. The competition requires that they perform three pieces, along with a sight-reading piece.
For the past two years that Longerbeam has been teaching at PMS, she and her students have received superior ratings (the highest achievable rating) in all categories of their performance at the district concert festival.
This year, they are hoping to maintain that standard of quality, and prove that those superior ratings weren’t just beginner’s luck for Longerbeam.
A major step Longerbeam has taken to ensure a solid performance at the festival from her students is by bringing in a "new set of ears" to work with the band. For the second year in a row, she invited Quincy Hilliard to PMS as a guest conductor for a three-day after school workshop with her students.
Hilliard is the composer in residence at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and is the author of numerous method books and compositions geared towards intermediate-level bands.
Most recently, he was commissioned to compose a piece for the Library of Congress in celebration of the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, called "Road to Freedom."
Hilliard has worked with middle school bands across the country, as he travels from state to state holding workshops similar to the one held at PMS.
When compared with all of the middle school bands he has worked with, Hilliard said that working with the seventh and eighth grade students at PMS was "like working with professionals."
"I travel around, and I hear lots of bands, some with lots of issues," he said. "This (the PMS band) is pleasing to listen to."
He added that the students were "very attentive and responsive, and you can’t ask for anything more than that" when working with young students.
Hilliard is a man who enjoys his work and the opportunities it gives him to meet new people, and said that it is a "joy" to work with kids, and to see how they learn, and that working with them actually helps him improve his teaching techniques and his skills as a composer for musicians on all levels.
"I try to make rehearsal fun," he said. "The end result is never as important as the process. If you enjoy the process, that’s what is important.."
As for Longerbeam, Hilliard said "it’s good to see someone with her passion" and that he likes to see young teachers like her "fired up" about directing.
He added "she strives to have a recognized program in the region."
What Longerbeam said she admires about Hilliard is the "wealth of experience" he can bring when working with her students.
She also said that working with Hilliard is similar to the type of experience the students would have if they had the opportunity to attend all-district band or an honor band, but they have the convenience of working with him at their own school.
When describing her students, Longerbeam echoed comments similar to those made by Hilliard.
"They are a well-behaved group," she said. "They really want to do well, and a lot of them don’t want to accept anything less than perfect."
She added, "they always keep trying" and "they just do it" without making excuses.

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PMS band to compete in VA concert festival

On Saturday, Janet Longerbeam will travel to Southwest Virginia Community College in Richlands with about 60 of the young musicians she teaches as band director at Pulaski Middle School.
There, the students will compete in the annual Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors Association’s district concert festival. The competition requires that they perform three pieces, along with a sight-reading piece.
For the past two years that Longerbeam has been teaching at PMS, she and her students have received superior ratings (the highest achievable rating) in all categories of their performance at the district concert festival.
This year, they are hoping to maintain that standard of quality, and prove that those superior ratings weren’t just beginner’s luck for Longerbeam.
A major step Longerbeam has taken to ensure a solid performance at the festival from her students is by bringing in a "new set of ears" to work with the band. For the second year in a row, she invited Quincy Hilliard to PMS as a guest conductor for a three-day after school workshop with her students.
Hilliard is the composer in residence at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and is the author of numerous method books and compositions geared towards intermediate-level bands.
Most recently, he was commissioned to compose a piece for the Library of Congress in celebration of the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, called "Road to Freedom."
Hilliard has worked with middle school bands across the country, as he travels from state to state holding workshops similar to the one held at PMS.
When compared with all of the middle school bands he has worked with, Hilliard said that working with the seventh and eighth grade students at PMS was "like working with professionals."
"I travel around, and I hear lots of bands, some with lots of issues," he said. "This (the PMS band) is pleasing to listen to."
He added that the students were "very attentive and responsive, and you can’t ask for anything more than that" when working with young students.
Hilliard is a man who enjoys his work and the opportunities it gives him to meet new people, and said that it is a "joy" to work with kids, and to see how they learn, and that working with them actually helps him improve his teaching techniques and his skills as a composer for musicians on all levels.
"I try to make rehearsal fun," he said. "The end result is never as important as the process. If you enjoy the process, that’s what is important.."
As for Longerbeam, Hilliard said "it’s good to see someone with her passion" and that he likes to see young teachers like her "fired up" about directing.
He added "she strives to have a recognized program in the region."
What Longerbeam said she admires about Hilliard is the "wealth of experience" he can bring when working with her students.
She also said that working with Hilliard is similar to the type of experience the students would have if they had the opportunity to attend all-district band or an honor band, but they have the convenience of working with him at their own school.
When describing her students, Longerbeam echoed comments similar to those made by Hilliard.
"They are a well-behaved group," she said. "They really want to do well, and a lot of them don’t want to accept anything less than perfect."
She added, "they always keep trying" and "they just do it" without making excuses.

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