Decatur students well represented in District IV Honors Band


Sophomore Gavin Stuart (center) has only been playing the tuba since July. Here, he plays in the recent December band concert. He made the District IV Honors Band for the first time this year.

Band students enter audition rooms hoping they’ve prepared enough. They pick up their instruments, look down at musical notes on the page and begin to play.

On Saturday, Dec. 8, Decatur band students auditioned for the District IV Honors Band at Lithonia High School.

The students competed for spots in the band against high schoolers from 25 other schools in the area.

Twenty students made the Honors Band out of the 33 who auditioned. Of the 20 who made the Honors Band, 16 of them advanced to audition for the All State Band. The students who make it all the way get together, rehearse various pieces of music and then perform their pieces in concert.

Decatur Band Director Megan Williams is pleased with the outcome of the students’ auditions. “Having 20 students make the honor band is quite an accomplishment,” Williams said. “I’m very proud of all the students, and I know they will have a great time performing with the bands on Feb. 9.”

The audition involves playing a piece of music that the students are given ahead of time as well as sight-reading.

Students have different opinions on the level of difficulty of the audition. Sophomore Windsor Jones, who got into the Honors Band and advanced to audition for the All State Band, doesn’t believe it’s too hard of a competition.

“You really can make it in if you work on it, but there’s still some pressure involved,” Jones said. “I kind of freaked out when I went into the room, but I felt like my auditions were pretty good.”

Williams has prepared them well. She has been band director at Decatur since 2009.

“Students have been working on etudes, scales and sight reading skills throughout the summer and fall. The audition is a test of many of the skills we work on daily,” she said.

Williams believed that the “highlight of this year’s competition was the students working hard, and some making District for the very first time.”

“Gavin Stuart, our new tuba guy who just started just a couple of months ago, got in, which is pretty awesome,” Jones said.

Sophomore Jacob Haythorne, who made the Honors Band, agrees with Jones.

“Even though it’s not the hardest audition ever, there’s still a lot of pressure and a lot of preparation that you have to do, and a lot of people don’t have time,” Haythorne said.

Any band student is eligible to compete. A number of students decide not to. Whether their decision is based on the time commitment or lack of interest, few of these band students feel that the competition is just too hard.

Sophomore Luke Bumgardner, who plays tenor saxophone, is among the students who did not audition in this year’s competition.

“With baseball and school, I don’t have enough time to practice to be good enough to make All State,” Bumgardner said.

In addition to the time commitment involved in preparing for the competition, the time spent in the Honors Band entails 14 hours of practice within two days preparing for the concert.

Students audition for the band because they enjoy playing with the best players from around district, and others see it as an opportunity for competition and improvement.

“Some [students] are driven to excel and enjoy competition,” Williams said. “Others know that just the process of auditioning and preparing will make them a better musician. That can be very motivating.”