By Laurie Routt

With a focus on instrumental music education, the Northeast Iowa Bandmasters Association (NEIBA) sponsors a number of contests and events throughout the school year. Last month several Union Middle School Band members participated in the NEIBA Solo Ensemble Contest. Judged by former Union Middle School band instructor Bill Livingston, with Mary Aschenbrenner serving as contest piano accompanist, the contest awarded ribbons for three levels of ratings.

Three performances earned ratings of “Highly Superior.” As the highest rating a musician can earn at the contest, gold ribbons were presented to:

  • 7th grader Miya Uchiyama-Hansen, for her flute solo entitled Petite Gavotte by Georg Friedrich Handel, arranged by Himie Voxman.
  • 7th grader Joseph Bistline for his multiple percussion solo entitled Oh Well by John Pollard, and his mallet solo on vibraphone entitled Skipping by John Pollard.
  • 8th grader Tristen Prouse for her flute solo entitled Meditation by Paul Taffanel.

Several students earned a “Superior” rating and the blue ribbon that accompanied it: 6th graders Brooklyn Hubbard on flute, Lauren Youngblut on alto saxophone, Clara Carlson on clarinet, Hunter Schaefer on clarinet, Adam Brehm on bells, Joshuah Rivera on bells, Sydney Anton on trumpet, Lexie Dugan on flute, Haley Tank on clarinet, Hayden Spore on French horn, Andrew Kline on trombone and 7th graders Toby Hopkins on baritone, Caleb Rivera on trumpet, Amy Caughron on clarinet, Lance Moore on alto saxophone, and 8th graders Alexis Nosko on flute, Elle Hookham on trumpet, Carlie Spore on baritone, and Gabriel Jesse on clarinet.

Red ribbons for an “Excellent” rating were awarded to 6th graders Brooke Johnston on flute, Sam Fehl on alto saxophone, Landen Reed on tuba and 8th grader Gabe Hanson on trombone.

Participation in music education can play an important role in student academic achievement. Research has shown that playing a musical instrument improves recall and retention of verbal information, advances math achievement and boosts reading and English language arts skills.