The Tucumcari Elementary School’s ORFF Ensemble band put on a performance for teachers, staff and fellow music students as part of the New Mexico Music Educators Association’s All State Music Festival and In-Service Conference held on Jan. 7 in Albuquerque.
The 23-member band, comprising students from the fourth through the sixth grades, was selected to perform at the event along with other school musical programs including choir and band, said Andrew Kesten, elementary music teacher and band director.
Kesten said the group performed before a crowd of 1,000 people at the Popejoy Hall at the University of New Mexico. He said being selected was a huge honor for the students and the conference exposes them to a wealth of musical education.
Kesten said he has entered the band for the past three years for the event; this is the first year the band was chosen. He said the students worked hard this year practicing for two hours after school every day. The group even performed several times around the community.
Kesten said the students play a variety of instruments, including xylophones, recorders (flutes) and even incorporated the use of recycled plastic drums and coffee cans to their performances. He said the band performed
Kesten said the group is open to all students and there are no tryouts or auditions. He said during the year, students can take the instruments home to practice in preparation for a performance.
During the conference, NMMEA President Brian Uerling told the students to “listen critically to these performances as examples of some of the very finest music making in the state.”
Funding for the elementary band program comes from the 21st Century CCLC grant and is the only federal funding source dedicated exclusively to after school programs. Established in 2002, each state receives funds based on its share of Title I funding for low-income students. The grants support afterschool programs that reinforce and complement the regular academic program, such as: drug and violence prevention programs, counseling programs, art, music, and recreation programs, technology education programs, and character education programs.