Kutztown Middle School Jazz Band and Choirs earn superior ratings

Kutztown Middle School Jazz Festival
Submitted Kutztown Middle School Jazz Festival

Kutztown Middle School Jazz Band and Choirs brought home trophies and earned superior ratings recently.

“Listening to them is quite a pleasure and I’m sure that all of the hardware that they are carrying back there is well deserved,” Superintendent Kathy Metrick said before introducing the band to the Kutztown School Board at a recent meeting.

Middle school vocal instructorShannon Sunday said she and Carl Zeplin, the middle school’s band director, took the choir and the band to Williamsburg recently for a competition.

The middle school choir took home two solo awards. Brady Tucker won outstanding vocal soloist and Mikayla Ryan won outstanding accompanist.


“For each of these festivals we’re going to, we’re not competing against other bands,” Zepplin said. “Each band is competing against a rubric that is on a scale of 1-10 with 9 and 10 being a superior rating.”

Sunday reported that jazz and show choir scored a superior, the concert choir scored a superior and jazz choir was ranked the best overall choir at the festival and scored the best out of any choir there.

Kutztown Area Middle School Jazz Band received a superior rating at all of the festivals that they went to.

“It’s been quite an outstanding ride, I’m very proud of the students,” Zeplin said.

The middle school jazz band also held a number of awards and solo awards.

For their first competition on Feb. 23 at the Oley Middle School and at the March 8 competition at Spring-Ford Middle School, Jamal Kemp, Mikayla Ryan and Dave Becker won soloist awards. At Spring-Ford the band also won awards as a whole for best Rhythm section and saxophone section.

On March 9 at Governor Mifflin Middle School the band won best trombone, trumpet and rhythm section. Kemp, Becker and Ryan won soloist awards.

Zeplin said that on March 16 the district held its own festival and when a district hosts a festival they do not get to compete but rather give the awards out. The band made up for a week without awards by competing at the March 23 festival at Boyertown Middle School with an award for best rhythm section and best trumpet section. Kemp received a personal award for overall outstanding soloist on trumpet and Ryan won a trombone soloist award. Percussion also received a combined award for their performance.

“We have four percussionists in the middle school jazz band and what they did was pretty neat,” Zeplin said.

Two weeks ago the band travelled to Williamsburg to compete and according to Zeplin they did not perform as well as they had in the past.

“There were somethings that went wrong and that’s the way that live music is,” Zeplin said.

Although they did not win any awards they were the only middle school to perform at the festival and came home with a superior rating.

The highest high school that was there received a 92 average while Kutztown Middle School received a 94.5 average.

On April 13 the band went to the Reading Intermediate High School and performed in the “Get Jazz” Festival which is a part of the Berks Jazz Festival. There were no awards but the band went through five different rotations and went to clinics and workshops throughout the day.

“These guys had an opportunity to perform with Bob Dorough who is the composer of ‘School House Rock’,” Zeplin said.

The band learned one of Dorough’s songs, “Coming Home Baby” and performed it for him.

Through out the season the middle school performed along and competed with 11 different bands which were: Oley Valley, Wilson West, Boyertown, Brandywine Heights, Muhelenberg, Governor Mifflin, Perkiomen Valley East, Perkiomen Valley West, Spring-Ford, Pottstown and Pine Grove.

“This is not to say that they weren’t great bands because they were but at these festivals we were all shooting for the coveted rating of superior and at every festival and this band was the only one to receive that rating of superior,” Zeplin said.