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ECI competition band concludes season with multiple superior ratings

Emanuel County Institute’s band has been in full swing since the beginning of January, and the competitive concert band season concluded last week with a trip to Burke County High School. At that time, the Spirit of the Dawgs received several superior ratings. Sandwiched between the beginning and end of the 2022 season were many bright spots, including accolades garnered at two other events.

Ashley Akridge has been at the helm of the ECI band program for years now and remained in that role this year. She says her musicians prepared and performed Darkland’s March by Randall Standridge, At Twilight by Tyler Grant, and Scorpion! by Richard Saucedo for four different performances this season.

The Spirit of the Dawgs’ first outing took them to Georgia Southern University on February 23. There, ECI participated in a pre-large group performance evaluation. Students performed music for two judges and received comments only. Clinician Laura Estes, a retired band director from Cobb County School District, offered valuable feedback to the band, which would be pivotal as they refined their music to move forward in the season.

March 1 saw the Spirit of the Dawgs host Region 3A’s band competition inside ECI’s own auditorium. Joining in this event were Jenkins County Beginning Band, Portal Concert Band, and Bryan County Concert Band.

Three out-of-town judges—Dr. Gene Hundley of Swainsboro Middle, GSU trombone professor Dr. Richard Mason, and GSU professor emeritus Dr. Michael Braz—came in and evaluated all of the participating bands, including the Spirit of the Dawgs.

ECI was heralded that day for an overall sound technique. Further, ECI was called a “fantastic group” with a “great ensemble” who was obviously partaking in fantastic musical learning. The band capped the March 1 showing with an award celebrating their woodwind section as the best in all of Region 3A.

On March 11, the band headed to West Laurens High School for the 22nd Annual Saint Patrick’s Invitational Band Festival, where they were adjudicated by three judges. Akridge says her group had a stellar performance and earned a superior rating from all judges at that time. Additionally, the Spirit of the Dawgs received comments calling them a “well-prepared group” with a “very good and positive stage presence.”

This set up ECI’s band for a great final outing on March 17 at a large group performance evaluation for District 10.

Held at Burke County High School, this particular event was sponsored by the Georgia Music Educators Association and evaluated the entire musical performance, along with a given band’s sight-reading abilities.

Recognized authorities in the field of music education critiqued the participation of each performance evaluation during a planned schedule. After ECI performed its concert, they and all other bands were required to complete a sight-reading exercise.

This task hands over a piece of music never before seen by a band, who then has to learn it in 6 minutes and perform it. Meanwhile, sight-reading judges evaluate the overall quality of the band’s ability to handle this challenge.

Akridge says this, in short, is a process that separates good bands from the best bands.

While in Waynesboro last week, ECI earned superior ratings from all judges in the area of performance, then earned a superior rating in sight-reading.

Superior ratings on the whole are the highest rating a band can receive. To receive such a rating means the group had an outstanding performance and is worthy of the distinction of being recognized as one of the best musical groups in the state.

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