Two years ago, Creekwood Middle School Assistant Band Director Ariel Gammons noticed she had a particularly talented and dedicated group of sixth grade students in her beginning percussion class. Based on their skills and passion for music, she formed a percussion ensemble the following year.
As the Creekwood Middle School percussion ensemble took shape, the students knew they were going to submit an entry to the prestigious Midwest Clinic – an International Band, Orchestra and Music Conference. Of course, earning an invitation to perform at the prestigious conference is an extremely difficult challenge. “The Midwest Clinic has over 17,000 annual participants from all 50 states and over 30 foreign countries. It is the number one clinic for music educators and performing at this clinic is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Gammons said.
Nobody told the students they weren’t supposed to make it. So, they worked, practiced and even learned new instruments to create an entertaining and engaging performance.
“I practiced one or two hours a day because I knew if we wanted to make it into this competition, it’s going to take the work,” Hassan Hashemian said.
“I practiced a full weekend, non-stop except to eat,” Will Sumner added.
Once recordings of their concerts were submitted to the Midwest Clinic, the waiting began.
Bands, orchestras and ensembles from all over submit entries each year. Most are never offered an invitation to perform. It might seem presumptuous, or even disrespectful, to think that a group at the very dawn of its existence could win. But, if you’ve heard them play, it will come as no surprise that the Creekwood Middle School Percussion Ensemble was invited to perform at the 2017 Midwest Clinic.
“When you hear that group perform, you are hearing greatness,” Houston Hayes, director of fine arts said. “And I’m not talking middle school great; I’m talking about great for anywhere!”
They are the only middle school percussion ensemble performing this year.