Yeates band received superior rating
Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 10, 2003
Since this past September, the John Yeates Middle School jazz band has been sharpening its brass and drum set skills twice a week (and once in a while, they even practice at home). The members have played for the Suffolk School Board office and in front of their schoolmates in multiple assemblies. On May 1, the Chargers were hitting the stage in front of a group before home they had never performed: the Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors District VIII Jazz Band Festival in Williamsburg.
The local middle-schoolers (Suffolk’s only representatives in the festival) started with a rendition of the fast-paced Martian Square Dance. They then pumped out the Latin ballad Bossa Madeira. For their grand finale, the ensemble brought the audience members to their feet and the words to their lips with a version of Aretha Franklin’s &uot;Respect!&uot;
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&uot;That’s a really good song, because it shows all the different sections of our band,&uot; said eighth-grader Whitney Jackson. &uot;The sax, the trumpets, the low brass (trombones, baritones), everybody got a part. The people were singing along.&uot;
About an hour after their performance, the Charger jazzers found out that their wish had come true: with the first score of &uot;Superior&uot; in the band’s three-year history, they’d earned the &uot;R-E-S-P-E-C-T!&uot; of the festival judges.
Ready to head out to lunch, the band had crowded onto their bus. Then director Dale Kittle stepped inside the automobile.
&uot;He looked mad, so we thought we’d done badly,&uot; said eighth-grader Brittany Hammond. &uot;He told us to be quiet, and held up one finger. That meant that we’d got the top ranking: Superior.&uot;
At that point, rhythm went out the window. &uot;It erupted!&uot; said Brittany with a smile. &uot;We were all screaming and jumping up and down.&uot;
Though the band had shown its instrumental skills to the judges, it now decided to put on an impromptu vocal show. The Queen song &uot;We are the Champions&uot; echoed through the bus.
This past Wednesday, seventh-grader Brittany O’Steen received a special individual honor; the bass guitarist was the sole Yeates student named to the festival’s Middle School All-Star Jazz Band.
&uot;I was setting up my guitar in class when Mr. Kittle came in and told us,&uot; she said. &uot;I was kind of shocked, because there were other middle-schoolers that were better than me. There were some other people from Yeates that should have been All-Stars.&uot;