Science Hill Percussion Ensemble

Science Hill Percussion Ensemble set to make history, after fundraiser

The Science Hill Percussion Ensemble will become the first percussion ensemble from the state of Tennessee to perform at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic when they travel there for the 72nd edition on December 19-22. However, first they need a little bit of help to get to the largest band and orchestra clinic in the world.

The percussion ensemble will host a concert as a fundraiser on December 15 inside Grand Topper Hall at Science Hill to help pay their way to Chicago. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door.

The doors will open a 6 p.m. with desserts served at 6:15 p.m. At 7 p.m., following the end of the silent auction, the award-winning Science Hill Percussion Ensemble will perform their program for The Midwest Clinic.

Science Hill senior Adeline Preston said the group has been busy preparing for the Midwest Clinic, which she called a “once-in-a-lifetime event.”

“I’m very excited, it’s a big deal,” Preston said through a smile. “We get to go all the way to Chicago and perform in front of a percussive world that really appreciates what we are doing.”

Percussion Director Dan McGuire echoed his senior’s sentiments, noting that the process has been grueling. Although, he said, everyone has been enjoying the grind.

“The concert is going to come and go, but the time that I have with this ensemble, and the time that we have together as a group, is probably the most important part of this process,” McGuire said. “The lessons that they learn along the way is really what this is all about. This is just a vehicle for greater lessons and more important things.”

Preston said that time management is one of the biggest things that she has taken from the program.

“It’s taught me a lot about work ethic and time management,” Preston said. “I’ve balanced some pretty hard academic classes with after school practices and extra-curricular activities.”

Junior Russell Perry said that it is a bit of a balancing act, but he has been able to learn to manage his time.

“It’s definitely a hard road, and I’ve definitely learned some lessons along the way about managing time and stuff,” Perry said.

Even after all the practice and work, Perry said that he still gets a little nervous before a performance, but he also understands the bigger picture.

“I’m thinking, ‘cherish this’,” Perry said about the chance to perform in the Midwest Clinic. “Because it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The Toppers’ Percussion Ensemble is one of only a handful of percussion ensembles in the country to perform at Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) and the Midwest Clinic. That feat and watching the students grow is something that makes McGuire proud.

“I’m very proud of them and I have tried to communicate that to them through the process,” McGuire said through a smile. “I’m not always the best at that, because like most people, I am trained to hear the mistakes so that is mostly what we talk about.

“But the students have grown and it’s one of the joys of being a band director and getting to spend so much time with the kids over the years. You see them grow up and you are a part of their lives.”

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