Hill-Murray Band Excels at the MSHSL Solo and Ensemble Contest

Every single Hill-Murray student who participated in the Minnesota State High School League’s (MSHSL) Solo and Ensemble Contest on April 23 scored in the top two rating classes.

“We are super proud of how they performed,” says Instrumental Music Director Traci Youngs, who has been leading the band program for the past 15 years.

Eight students received an Excellent rating. Fourteen students playing ten different instruments earned the highest rating of Superior during the event, including junior flutist Faith Albert and senior saxophone player Malcom Lenz.

“I was proud to find that my diligent practicing and years of experiences making me the musician I am now, paid off,” says Faith.

“In all my years performing, this was my first time participating in this event,’ says Malcom.  “I’m super proud of the fact that I did so well. It makes me really happy to be able to finish off my high school on such a high note! – Pun intended!”

Faith has been playing the flute since fourth grade. She played in Hill-Murray’s Middle School Band before joining the CIS Symphonic Band, Marching and Pep Bands in high school. Malcom joined Hill-Murray’s band program as a freshman. He also performs in the Jazz and Pep bands. Hill-Murray also offers Concert Band, CIS Concert Band, Symphonic Band, AP Music Theory and Middle School and Pioneer Orchestra. The Orchestra program, which is the newest addition, is led by Bjorn Villesvik. From the CIS programs, which are college-level courses, to beginners, the band program has something for everyone.

“We will teach any student, in any grade,” says Ms. Youngs. “We do not cut anyone who wants to play. We are accepting of all.  It’s never too late to start an instrument.”

If you are worried about it interfering with other activities, Ms. Youngs says don’t.

“I have students in band and DECA, Quiz Bowl, Hockey, Baseball, Theatre, and so much more,” she says. “We make it work because we choose to put the students first.”

Faith says her favorite thing about band is the people.

“Being in band has allowed me to build many relationships with my peers,” she says. “I’ve made so many friends and even met my boyfriend through band.” She also enjoys the opportunity to play at events and improve her musical talent.

“M absolute favorite thing about band, is definitely playing pep band at sporting events throughout the fall and winter seasons,” says Malcom. “This year, I was the band’s Drum Major, which is essentially the team captain for band.”

“The band is pretty active all year,” says Ms Youngs. “In general, the band performs about once a week throughout the school year. Our band competes in MSHSL events just like other sports and activities. Most of our performances are local but we do travel and perform as well.” In fact, next year, the band and orchestra will be traveling to Honolulu, Hawaii to perform in the Pearl Harbor Commemoration Ceremony along with a few other performances while they are there.

“Band has so many benefits,” says Faith. “You are given the opportunity to improve yourself and help others improve themselves. Many high schoolers don’t realize the impact music has on their lives. As a band member, you see how the music you play affects your peers, daily.”

To get involved, all you have to do is sign up for the class. But you don’t need to take that classes to enjoy the music. Ms. Youngs encourages everyone to support our bands by attending their concerts.

“All the concerts are free and family friendly,” she says.