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An impressive 263 students from across the district participated in the Plumas County Schools Music Festival, designed to foster a sense of community and collaboration among the musicians, and for them to experience the joy of playing music with their peers. Photo by Cary Dingel for Plumas Unified School District

Plumas County Schools Music Festival unites students for a day of musical celebration

Submitted by Cary Dingel

Plumas Unified School District

[email protected]

Earlier this month 263 band students from across the county gathered at the Plumas Sierra County Fairgrounds for a day of musical collaboration at the Plumas County Schools Music Festival. Players of each instrument met in small groups to learn from an instructor, then rehearsed together in the elementary or high school band in preparation for the day’s group performances. Special music clinics like percussion and African drums, jazz, and bass guitar rounded out the day’s activities.

For junior and senior high school musicians, the day started with rehearsals for that afternoon’s concert, followed by assisting with the elementary musicians’ woodwind and brass sectionals.

After their individual workshops, students gathered in Serpilio Hall to play in what’s known as a mass band– meaning all students, regardless of age or experience, play as a large group. For many students, this is a rare opportunity to perform with so many other musicians, and it was a stirring, exciting moment for families and community members to witness. Elementary students were then treated to performances by each high school’s band.

Matt Cruse at Gumba’s Family Pizza provided delicious cheese or pepperoni pizza slices for all participants, and Taylor Curran of Grandma Jane’s Place made her signature luxury cupcakes for dessert.

The day culminated in a more formal student concert, featuring familiar pieces like the theme from Pirates of the Caribbean, the 1812 Overture, and Bohemian Rhapsody. It was well attended by an appreciative crowd of families and the public.

This event is a unique opportunity for students to come together and learn from some excellent instructors. It’s also a chance for students to connect with their peers and experience the joy of making music together.

Huge thanks to Plumas Unified School District music teacher Jane Brown (Chester and Greenville schools), and music teachers Theresa Smith (Portola schools), and Eliza Hardee (Quincy schools), for all they do to support music education in Plumas County, as well as to the music clinicians Dr. Mark Satterfield, Jazz Workshop; Brandon Dodge, Percussion and African Drumming; Jim Norman, Percussion and Jazz Piano; Chris Retallack, Jazz and Electric Bass; Marsha Roby and Maddy Fitch, Flutes; CoraGrace Hardee, Clarinets; NIck Hampton, Saxophones; Bob Greene, Trumpets; Noah Hardee, Low Brass and Horns; Journeyman Band Guest Conductor Martha Damon-O’Neill, and Apprentice Band Guest Conductor Jim Norman.

Special thanks to all those who planned and coordinated this complex event: Bob Buchanan, Band Managers Nick Hampton, Maddy Fitch, CoraGrace Hardee, and Noah Hardee, John Steffanic and the Fair board and staff, Plumas County Office of Education staff, Superintendent of Schools William Roderick, Assistant Superintendent Kristy Warren, Theresa Belsher-Howe and Kyle Bakker, our wonderful bus drivers, Grandma Jane’s Bakery, and our principals and administrative assistants.

Band manager Noah Hardee coaches the low brass and horn players at the Plumas Sierra County Fairgrounds in preparation for performances later that day. Photo by Cary Dingel for Plumas Unified School District
PUSD music teacher Jane Brown demonstrates how warm and mellifluous a saxophone sounds with the addition of vibrato. Photo by Cary Dingel for Plumas Unified School District
Quincy Elementary’s band students stand for applause following their performance, led by Quincy schools music teacher Eliza Hardee. Photo by Cary Dingel for Plumas Unified School District
Serpilio Hall was filled with the sound of all students playing together as a mass band. Photo by Cary Dingel for Plumas Unified School District
Portola schools music teacher Theresa Smith leads her Portola Jr/Sr High School students through their performance for their fellow student musicians. Photo by Cary Dingel for Plumas Unified School District
Former long-time Greenville schools band teacher Jim Norman shares an introduction to jazz music with the assembled students before joining bandmates Dr. Mark Satterfield (saxophone), Brandon Dodge (percussion), and Chris Retallack (bass) to play keyboards on beautiful renditions of some classic jazz standards like “Fly Me to the Moon.” Photo by Cary Dingel for Plumas Unified School District

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