NEW PORT RICHEY
It was the last rehearsal before the big concert and band director Jon Sever was in a familiar spot, trying to pull a little more out of the middle school musicians gathered on the stage at the Center for the Arts at River Ridge.
"Your bigs need to be bigger," he said. "It doesn't mean to be obnoxious. It doesn't mean to stand out. I've never told you to back off in the days we've been together so don't start now. Take the training wheels off of your life and you'll find you can do a lot more with it."
Not a problem the next time around.
It shouldn't be for these young musicians, touted to be the "best of the best," after auditioning and landing a coveted spot on Pasco's All County Middle School Band. Saturday afternoon they were slated to take the stage with Sever, who once served as director of the River Ridge High School band. Sever left five years ago to pursue his master's degree at Florida State University and is now director of bands at Bloomingdale High in Valrico. High school students also performed on Saturday under the direction of Dr. Matthew McCutchen, director of athletic bands and associate director of bands at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
It's also a time to stretch for young musicians, to play high caliber selections they might not otherwise encounter in their school band rooms. Band members got the music ahead of time so they could practice on their own and had three full band rehearsals before Saturday's concert.
"I like the experience," said Cesar Munguia, 14, a baritone player from Chasco Middle. "The music is to my full potential."
"It's just amazing," said Andreas Buss, 13, who plays trombone in the Weightman Middle band. "The music we play is not like anything I've ever played. And it's really fun. I'm making a lot of new friends. This experience is really worthwhile for everybody in this room."
"It's a great group and it's always good to be here at River Ridge — it's such a great facility. I have some great memories here," Sever said. "These kids really want to be here and I want them to have a positive experience. I want them to have fun. And I want this to be entertaining — that's why we come together."