From the depths of the lush forest and the silence of the wind, emerge howling wolves searching for their pray in this musical making of a great Red Riding Hood rendition. West Milton Winter Percussion presents Red Reflection, a student production. Judges were blown away during their first competition when they learned the whole production was created by students- very talented musicians.
Ronald Duncan, the West Milton band director, decided to take a step outside of the box and find an alternative to hiring a winter percussion instructor, which could cost thousands. Looking over the group of students there were participating in the winter ensemble, he realized that he had a talented group of kids. He spoke with his son, Jesse Duncan, who is also planning on majoring in music education in college, to see if he was interested in arranging some pieces of music for the winter production. Jesse jumped at the chance and with the help of Matthew Booker, Haley Antic and Christy Always, the magic began.
“Students learned that one person cannot singly come up with all the creative ideas to the overall story and that they must work together,” band director Duncan said. “I told them it wasn’t important how they placed, but I just wanted them to learn something valuable. I just didn’t realize how good they actually would be.”
“Me and Jake thought, let’s think of a show design. Little Red Riding Hood is the idea that came to mind. So we spent several hours thinking about it with the three pieces of music I picked out and we starting thinking how this could fit here and that could fit there. Then, over a couple of weeks, Haley and Christy joined in and started developing more and more of the show as the music was being created,” Jesse Duncan said.
Musically, they have learned to make a show rise and fall and how to keep the audience’s attention. From the sweet sounding vibraphone to the confidence of the keyboard to the strength of the drum line, this performance demonstrates that hard work and team input pays off. During the past competition, the ensemble placed first in their class at Centerville with an overall score of 74 out of 100, including a penalty of 3 points due to the length of the performance. It was an unexpectedly high score that gave the students the boost of encouragement and positive push to work harder.
“After that performance and receiving the time penalty, we had to go back and shorten our idea of the show,” Jesse Duncan said. “It was a learning experience that had to be encountered firsthand. I like that I was able to use my skills to be able to arrange, design, and direct this percussion ensemble. It gave me the experience of writing and teaching, which will help me in the future.”
Together, each one of them brings their own flare and character to the performance. “Since it’s a student run program, we can have our opinion about different sections and by doing so, we can truly put our full emotion into the performance,” Jake Blevins said.
When asked if band director, Duncan plans to make student development a yearly part of the winter percussion, he indicated that he would have to make that decision based on the group of kids he had that year. These talented students are driven and that made the difference and made this whole production possible. By allowing them the freedom to produce their own production, it has allowed it to be more personable for them and they are proud of it. “I feel like I can actually be myself,” Sammi Jo Jett said.
“I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of each and every one of them,” band director Duncan said.
The Winter Percussion competes in four different competitions this season. The last two are scheduled on March 22 at Miamisburg High School and the MEPA (Mid East Performance Association) Championships on March 29 and 30 at the Nutter Center in Fairborn.