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Old Man Winter vs. Watauga musicians

Article Published: Mar. 11, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Old Man Winter vs. Watauga musicians

Orchestra students prep for a Charlotte competition Tuesday. Students have missed most of their music rehearsals due to inclement weather.

Photo by Lauren Ohnesorge

Old Man Winter must not like music.

Just ask the budding musicians at Watauga High School.

Inclement weather has already cost orchestra students a regional clinic.

Seven orchestra students, Konrad Kosmala (violin), Ledah Finck (violin), Justin Beebe (horn), Doria Kosmala (violin), Jessica Simon (viola) and Patrick Coston (cello) were selected to participate in the 2010 Western Regional All State Orchestra Clinic at Appalachian State University's Hayes School of Music.

The clinic was supposed to happen Feb. 26-28, but inclement weather caused officials to cancel the event. Since the clinic involved so many students, parents and school systems across North Carolina, it will not be rescheduled.

"They were very disappointed," director and second-year WHS teacher Will Selle said of his kids. "They feel like they were let down in preparing for the event, and then the snow just threw it all out of whack."

Weather has also cost kids where competitions are concerned.

Selle made the decision not to have his 43 participating students ranked at Tuesday's Music Performance Adjudication in Charlotte."It just wouldn't be fair," he said.

Despite his decision, adjudicators gave both WHS orchestra classes superior ratings in the comments.

WHS Band is preparing for the fallout at its own adjudication March 18. More than 60 students are expected to attend from Watauga.

"When we go, we will only have had 16 rehearsals," director Tim Walker said Tuesday. "Today will be my first rehearsal in two weeks."

Compare that to the 40 or more rehearsals school bands off the mountain have had. "Most of ours have been less than an hour," Walker said.

Walker, a teacher in the High Country since 1996, said this winter is unlike anything he's ever seen. "I've never experienced anything with this kind of an impact on our ability to prepare," he said.

Walker may end up following Selle's route, opting out of the band ranking system and instead requesting comments from competition judges.

While Walker has encouraged kids to make up for the weather through private lessons and independent study, it's not a solution that's available to everyone. "I think students lose their momentum when they have all these snow days," he said.

Students like junior violinist and orchestra member Kathryn Smith would agree.
"It's been kind of difficult," she said. "You have to be a little more self-motivated to pace yourself."

Smith was among the students attending the orchestra competition in Charlotte Tuesday. She was OK with not being ranked. "It's cool, because we get the comments... and get to hear more specifics about our performances," she said.

About 5 percent of WHS students are involved in band or orchestra, Walker said.

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