Right On Key
Greenwood Community High School music department wins third straight ISSMA All-Department Award
Writer / Michelle Kaufman
Greenwood Community High School’s music department was recently recognized as a recipient of the Indiana State School Music Association (ISSMA)’s All-Department Award.
To qualify for the award, Greenwood’s two concert bands, jazz band and three choirs had to score a gold rating at ISSMA competition.
“We’ve qualified for the all-department [award],” says band director Steven Fletcher. “If we didn’t do jazz band, it would be an all-music award because both sides [band and choir] would get it. With the three, we obviously qualify for a higher level of that award. It’s very cool.”
This is the third year in a row that Greenwood has received the award. Fletcher says he, choir director Daniel Borns and band director John Morse focus on doing their best and pushing the students with new and challenging literature to perform.
“The kids are getting better, understanding more, and they’re playing it and do a great job,” Fletcher says. “It’s really all three of us [directors] working together to make it happen. It’s not any one person. The concert bands are always kind of where we want to explore more technically for the band so when we get to the marching band, those skills are there.”
The Wind Ensemble band played technically difficult music, while the Symphonic Band focused on a different, more challenging set of music with different colorations and meter.
“Because a lot of those [Symphonic Band] kids are younger, we wanted to make sure we got as much sound and as much ability out of them as we could,” Fletcher says. “They went beyond what I thought they’d do. It’s an amazing thing to getto watch a group of kids grow musically, mature and push them to do something they didn’t think they could do.”
Borns started the Vocal Jazz choir during the 2014-15 school year, and having a jazz or show choir was another requirement for the awards. One Group I soloist, one Group I ensemble, an organizational choir and Vocal Jazz all had to receive a gold rating to earn the choir side of the all-department award.
Greenwood’s choir has 60 soloists and 13 ensembles who received a gold rating, with 36 soloists and 12 ensembles being Group I.
“It’s a nice recognition,” Borns says. “It just shows that we’re checking all the boxes and giving the kids the opportunities that I think they should have. It makes me feel good knowing that they’re getting to see the different opportunities that are out there and being successful.”
To prepare for Solo and Ensemble, Borns divides the choirs into smaller groups and picks group leaders so he and the leaders can work with them. Borns also picks music for soloists and gives them an accompanist and practice track.
“I’m proud of the fact that we can say that we’re one of those schools that’s [gotten the award] for three years in a row,” Borns says. “I don’t know how many schools have done that. We wouldn’t be able to do the total department award if it weren’t for the band. They’re also rocking and rolling every year, so it’s cool to kind of have the whole music department be able to do that sort of stuff.”