St. Olaf honor band cultivate improvement

Band sends five students to perform


Lucy Zumbrunnen

Juniors Tristan Rooney, Nathan Schemp and senior Natalie Aune practice saxophone. The band practices everyday for concerts and events.

Amaia Barajas and Jenna Cook

As senior Oliver Willette reflects on his time performing with the St.Olaf honor band he recounts the complexity and fast-pace the band had.

“It reinforces the importance of once you make a mistake you can’t make it again. We probably played through four songs and we played through them all only a few times straight,” Willette said.  “So when I made a mistake I wrote it down and I remember it, because the next time we play it, it might be rehearsal and then concert. I don’t really have much chance for mistakes.”

According to band director Steven Schmitz, students were chosen by merit. He said more students were elected this year than previous years.

“I’ll look back on their latest playing test score so that it feels like an unbiased way to choose, then it’s out of my hands and (St. Olaf) chooses,”  Schmitz said. “I was really proud because we got five this year and the top last year was three.”

According to Schmitz, students elected to perform with St. Olaf had to be at the college early in the morning and perform a full concert in five hours.

“It’s basically just a bunch of rehearsal and they got the music about a week before and they’re supposed to work on it,”

Schmitz said. “The thing that is really cool and unique about it is it’s so fast paced and you’re working with really talented people. They’re putting on a concert in five hours.”

Willette said, he found himself observing the other musicians at St. Olaf and trying to compare himself to them.

“There’s so many good players in general. In school there’s 150 different students I compare myself to, but you go there and there’s so many people that are better than you or just as good as you,” Willette said.

Schmitz said he hopes the students who were able to go to St. Olaf were challenged.He said he wants Park musicians to bring the experience of the honor band back to the classroom.

“I think that the kids that need even more challenge then we provide so the very top kids get a challenge that they need, but may not always get here,” Schmitz said. “Just being around these super talented and motivated kids hopefully they bring back some of those lessons and lead by example when they come back to the regular band classes,” Schmitz said.