Middle Schoolers Take on a Musical Challenge

Elite Entertainers Gather for an Unforgettable Show


The Blue Band shares a shining moment with fellow players and the audience. Photo by Mr. Hutchings.

Young musicians traveled to Korea International School Pangyo to put on a masterful performance. On April 11th, the Korean International Music Education Association (KIMEA) held its annual Middle School Honor Band Festival. After months of hard work, young maestros shared their talents, made new connections, and pursued their passions at the event. Over 200 participants from ten different schools gathered for a memorable experience. 

DIS participants went through rigorous auditions to prove themselves worthy. Selected members earned spots in three different levels: Blue, Red, and Gold Band. (Blue: Yul, Haydn, Michelle; Red: Sophia, Manuel, Bryan, Ellen, Evan, Maddox; Gold: Leewen, Jayden, Aiden, Becky, Daniel) 

Honor Band participants wait nervously for the showcase. Photo by Mr. Hutchings.

8th grader Haydn, a saxophone player, said, “We got the music about a month before, and since then, I was practicing hard a few times every weekend, getting advice from Mr. Hutchings about the difficulty of my music. It all paid off when I got to play in front of everyone.”

The Red Band players stand proudly as the audience applauds their performance. Photo by Leewen Wang.

Players in the Blue Band challenged themselves with The Tempest, Luz Y Sombra, and Discovery Overture. Haydn commented, “My favorite part about this event was playing my favorite song in front of everyone. It was a difficult song but being able to play and not messing up made me really happy.”

Sophia takes a short break from the intense practice. Photo by Mr. Hutchings.

The Red ensemble performed Ultimatum, Rough-Riders, and Images of Ireland. 6th grader Sophia, a flute player, shared, “It was a great opportunity to show my flute skills. It was difficult because it had a higher level compared to our school band.” Not only did the students have a musical experience, but they also socialized and made new friends. Sophia added that she enjoyed the new connections she made with musicians at other schools. 

Aiden runs through his part one last time before the big moment. Photo by Leewen Wang.

The Gold Band ran through the most challenging pieces in the festival: New Era Fanfare, A Klezmer Karnival, and Aria Di Chiesa. Saxophonist Becky in 7th grade mentioned, “The music was a little challenging because I was in the Gold Band, but Mr. Hutchings helped me, so I was able to do it.”  

The Gold Band players recharge with sweet snacks. Photo by Leewen Wang.

Behind the scenes, Mr. Hutchings, the secondary maestro, set his students up for success in each of the pieces – he gathered all players together and practiced before the festival. He also boosted their confidence and helped them cope with nerves before the performance. Thanks to his guidance, DIS musicians played to their full potential at the concert. 

Becky blows into her saxophone, harmonizing with the band. Photo by Mr. Hutchings.

The festival meant more than just a one-time performance. Joshua Yaniw, this year’s Gold Band conductor and a teacher at Seoul Foreign School (SFS), explained, “I believe great music changes people. It makes them one of the better citizens. It teaches people to work as a team, and it encourages responsibilities. At the end of the day, you create something beautiful. So the middle school honor band for KIMEA is a unification of all the schools across Korea to make wonderful music together.” 

Most importantly, the festival served as a growing experience for all students. Mr. Hutchings reflected, “A festival like this helps our program grow. Kids learn things there and bring them back. They become role models, increase their skills, and become more in tune with the music. So that really benefits us. I look forward to just getting as many more people involved as possible.”