A New Way to Large Group

Freshmen and sophomores experience Large Group contest in a new environment for the first time

On Friday, May 7, North Polk’s band and choir students made their way over to the middle school to participate in the 2021 State Large Group Contest. Last year’s performances for both band and choir were cancelled due to the lockdown that began in March of 2020. Sophomores and freshmen were able to experience large group, but not like how it had been before.

The North Polk Symphonic Band prepares for their performance at State Large Group, May 7 2021.

Normally, large group is hosted at another school, occasionally being at North Polk. This year, students were lucky enough to experience their new normal large group in the comfort of their own school, aside from a few changes. For the band, bell coverings were required for most of the wind instruments. Choir students had to wear their masks for their performance. 

“I feel as if large group wasn’t as stressful as it would have been in a normal year,” freshman Noah Lindell said. “As a freshman, I’ve never experienced anything other than what happened this year, but listening to other people talk about large group it sounds like it was way simpler than in previous years. Without a doubt it was fun, the people that participated made every second a phenomenal one.” 

Alongside the freshman class, the sophomores had also not experienced what large group was like before the pandemic. 

“My large group experience was unique. It was unique in the sense that it was my first large group and we hosted it here instead of traveling,” sophomore Maddie Bond said. “Ultimately I do not feel like I got the full experience of ‘Large group’, but I am thankful for not getting home at 11.”  

The band plays their opening piece “Our Heritage”.

The band performed first, showcasing three pieces in total. They received a Division I rating from all three judges for their performance that afternoon.

“I was very proud of my clarinet section as a whole. We put a lot of work into the parts and I feel like the judges saw that hard work,” Bond said of her performance. “Everyone has hiccups, but I would say that we performed well.” 

Many of the band students practiced rigorously for their performance, especially for one particular piece.

“The hardest piece was by far ‘Satiric Dances’,” freshman trumpet player Sam Weers said. “Sections were challenging to learn and it took a while to get them down. The piece was fast and had a ton of high notes, so practicing was very important. But I eventually figured it out, and the piece ended up going great!” 

After the band finished their last piece, the choir began their performance. They performed two songs as a mixed choir, and one piece each for the treble and bass choirs. Lindell played a drum for one of the mixed choir pieces, and voiced his thoughts on his performance.

“Actually playing an instrument in time with a choir for the first time made me worry that the group would tear; that happened in a high percentage of practices leading up to large group,” Lindell mentioned. “If we were to have torn, I would have either found a group to stick with or continue on my own. Luckily, our fumble had nothing to do with tearing and we recovered from our fumble quickly and continued to finish the piece.”

The choir sings one of their songs for mixed choir at State Large Group.

The choir also received a Division I rating from their three judges, and despite some minor hiccups, the choir recovered efficiently and impressed the judges with their recovery.

Though large group was much different this year than it has been in year’s past, the underclassmen agreed that it was an exciting event nonetheless.

“Large group was a lot of fun!” Weers said. “It was a good chance to show off the music we had been working on, and it was a time to show others how much we had improved from the beginning of the year.”