Dresden Traditional Band Gains Momentum

Dresden Traditional Band Gains Momentum After Semester of Success
Posted on 01/12/2024
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This year marked a special milestone for Dresden Middle and High as the traditional band program was officially relaunched. Having struck the right chords in their debut semester, the musicians are tuning up for a successful second half of the school year.

The program’s revival was fueled by a surge in student interest and love for music. Under the guidance of Jacob Abbott, Director of the Dresden High School [DHS] traditional band, and Becca Steele, Director of the Dresden Middle School [DMS] band, the new program is thriving.

Since August, students have immersed themselves in learning fundamental skills. Despite many having never held an instrument before, the students jumped right into learning the basics - embracing posture, refining breathing techniques, learning notes, understanding music notation, and more. By early December, their hard work was evident in a winter concert that showcased some astonishing progress within the few short weeks of the first semester.

Directors Abbott and Steele are thrilled with the students’ progress.

"Watching these students work and improve has been truly amazing. They've dedicated themselves to mastering the basics and sharpening their skills with each new piece of music we work on. It’s been an inspiring experience to say the least,” Abbott said.

group of band students play in a gym conducted by Jacob Abbott

“The day over day improvements that the students have made has been remarkable to witness,” agreed Steele. “We are just so incredibly proud of each and every one of them.”

Throughout the semester, Abbott and Steele invited subject matter experts from area schools and universities into the classroom to work with band students. These special guests include Frankie Leslie, Gibson County Special School District Middle School Band Director; University of Tennessee at Martin Trumpet Professor Kurt Gorman and Trombone Professor Dr. Joseph Frye; Bethel University's Clarinet Professor Dr. Christa Jannae Frye, and UTM Director of Bands Dr. John Oelrich.

Dresden Band Concert was well attended as shown in picture of a crowd sitting in the Dresden Middle School bleachers in the gym

“The guidance and mentorship of the visitors we’ve welcomed has been instrumental in shaping the band's growth. By offering their guidance and expertise, they have empowered our students. There are many other visitors to thank who helped students in our Choir and Pop Band, ROAR. We’re so appreciative of the support from these invaluable partners,” Abbott expressed.

In early December, the two bands convened to provide a special winter concert for a large crowd at Dresden Middle School.

“The strides these students made in such a short time are remarkable. The winter concert had a large audience. It’s clear that their passion for music is making an impression on our community," vocalized DMS Principal David Lewellen.

Echoing that sentiment, DHS Principal Scott Killebrew acknowledged, “Hard work shows, and a large part of the band’s success is attributed to the dedication of Mr. Abbott and Mrs. Steele. What they’re achieving is no easy feat, and our thanks and congratulations to them both,” he stated.

The band is documenting their journey on social media, posting occasional updates in the 'Dresden High School Performing Arts Department' Facebook group. From mastering beginner tunes like "Hot Cross Buns" to snippets from their memorable winter concert, their progress is evident.

Looking ahead, the band is gearing up and practicing new pieces of music for the second semester with enthusiasm. They're diligently working to strengthen their sound for their spring concert. The group is also excited about performing at the Weakley County Schools Arts Festival that will be held in Dresden in May.

Jacob Abbott and Rebecca Steele smile in Christmas concert wear in Dresden Middle gym

"We have a lot of people to thank - our partners, caring community members and school leaders, and our administration team," stated Abbott. "Assistant Director of Schools Betsi Foster has been instrumental in getting our program started and is always there for us in guidance and support.” 

Steele added, “We’re grateful for the support and look forward to showcasing the talents of our students for the community to enjoy.”

Assistant Director Foster is absolutely thrilled with the band’s success.

“In my 20 years working with Weakley County Schools, hearing the Dresden bands perform lands in the top of my favorite experiences. It took time, effort, and a perfect combination of resources and determined people to make it happen. Every student deserves a place, and seeing the pride and dedication in the students’ performance was heartwarming. It’s a privilege to be a part of the efforts to help grow these bands and the arts in Weakley County Schools. Congratulations to Mr. Abbott and Mrs. Steele for their passion, dedication, and their drive that made the program possible. Special thanks also to Mr. David Lewellen, Mrs. Jamie Rickman, Mr. Scott Killebrew, and Ms. Sierra Kirk for their hard work in creating scheduling solutions for both schools,” Foster communicated.

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