Students mark 75th LPS music festival with scores of successful notes

Lincoln Public Schools students made the words staccato, crescendo and countermelody come to life at a special celebration of music in March.
Sixth-grade students from across the school district took part in the 75th annual All-City Music Festival. The weeklong event allows young orchestra and band musicians to rehearse and play songs together with students from other LPS buildings each year. LPS high school students also mentor sixth graders.
The happiness for Solomon and Grace was on a mountaintop level as they practiced scales before their rehearsal at Southeast High School. Both said they were excited to meet students from other schools throughout the day. Dozens of musicians from Lux, Mickle and Pound middle schools came together to practice pieces for a public concert that night.
“I like that there are a lot of people here,” Solomon said. “It’s fun to play music with other people who like it too.”
“You get to hear what everyone else is doing with music,” Grace said. “It’s cool to hear what they’re doing, because it might be something you want to do too.”
Grace plays cello in Lux’s orchestra and Solomon plays trumpet in Pound’s band. Both said they have enjoyed learning about their instruments over the past several years.
“I like it,” Solomon said. “I like the higher tones of the brass instruments, so trumpet is fun to play.”
“It sounds really cool, and I like how many tones you can make with it,” Grace said. “It’s fun.”
Musicians from Dawes, Goodrich and Schoo practiced two days earlier at Northwest High School, and students from Moore and Scott played their notes at Southwest. Students from Culler, Irving, Lefler and Park wrapped up the week of activities with their rehearsals and concerts.
The All-City Music Festival takes place each year during Music in Our Schools Month. The nationwide celebration highlights the vital roles that instrumental and vocal music classes play in school districts. LPS includes music courses, events and presentations in its curriculum at all grade levels.
LPS Music Supervisor Amy Holloman said the festival has many benefits.
“Students and staff alike look forward to this annual event,” Holloman said. “With the tradition carrying on for 75 years, members of the community and families have the connection of a shared experience through performing. Bringing students together from multiple schools allows them to participate in one of the largest ensembles they will experience, to provide an extended learning opportunity beyond what is typically experienced in the classroom and create a larger sense of community.”
Thousands of LPS students have taken part in the All-City Music Festival over the past 75 years. In addition to providing younger musicians with a chance to learn from each other, the event also helps high school students. Band and orchestra players who once looked up to older mentors when they were sixth graders are now able to serve in their own leadership spots.
Pound music teachers Ian Wright and Amy Gammel began the afternoon rehearsal by walking students through the first run-throughs of their songs. Wright guided orchestra members and Gammel gave directions to band students. Music teachers from both Lux and Mickle assisted them as they worked on songs such as “Bach Country Fiddle” and “Do-Si-Do.”
“It is great to see so many people,” Wright told students at the beginning of practice. “Look at this great group. This is fantastic.”
Grace and Solomon were members of ensembles that filled one full half of Southeast’s gym. Holloman said those numbers were the source of many good lessons for students. She said changing the size and makeup of the groups flexed their musical and social skills.
“Students must also adjust their personal playing based on the size of their section to maintain balance as a whole,” Holloman said. “For example, at one of our sites we had 29 percussionists. While in their own building, these students may be one of three to four members of their section, and they need to play out to be heard.
“When combining with so many other percussionists, the students may need to play at half the dynamic level since there are physically more players in the section. Students must experience the change in balance of instrumentation to learn the skills needed to analyze and adjust for a successful performance.”
The larger numbers also meant all groups could create a rich range of sounds. Smiling students at Southeast plucked their stringed instruments in one section of a song, and band musicians relied on different instruments to take center stage throughout their concert.
Holloman felt the festival provided a firm foundation for everyone’s future musical careers. She said students like Grace and Solomon would be able to play successful notes for many years to come.
“As students continue in their music programs, their prospects for honors groups and participation in the larger music community increases,” Holloman said. “Our sixth-grade festival is the first time our students experience this large sense of community and challenge their skill set to adjust within such a large ensemble.”

Click here to learn more about the positive impact of music in the LPS curriculum. A list of upcoming performances at all grade levels is available on the district music calendar.
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Published: March 27, 2024, Updated: March 27, 2024

Hundreds of LPS students showcased their talents in band and orchestra during the 75th annual All-City Music Festival. Sixth-grade students took part in rehearsals and concerts at three sites during March. LPS high school students served as mentors for the younger musicians at the festival.