Three Marvin Ridge High students attend Winthrop honors band clinic
Band directors from more than 60 high schools across the Southeast submitted applications for their school’s top performers, hoping they’d get to participate in Winthrop University’s annual Invitational Honors Band Clinic.
This year, this prestigious program invited three students from Waxhaw’s Marvin Ridge High School, one for his second trip.
Sophomore Jordan Laird, junior Michael Kitson and senior Charles “Charlie” Summerlin traveled to Rock Hill, S.C., last week for the two-day clinic, where they auditioned for positions in one of two bands and rehearsed as part of a masterclass with well-known guest conductors. The clinic culminated in a concert.
Held by Winthrop University’s Music Department since 1981, the Invitational Honors Band Clinic draws high school students from the Carolinas, Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia.
Marvin Ridge Band Director Keith James said his three students have shown a steady progression in musical skills and, just as importantly, a “winning attitude.”
James has had an opportunity to observe his students in a variety of venues, including the classroom, performances in ensembles and in all-state bands. “All of these students have made efforts to further their musical careers,” he noted.
The youngest member representing Marvin Ridge, Laird played piano in elementary school but joined her middle-school band with hopes of playing the saxophone. Her mother, a clarinet player, influenced her to try the clarinet. Laird never looked back.
“I have no regrets about sticking with the clarinet,” she said recently. Upon entering high school, Laird joined the Union Symphony Youth Orchestra, which provided additional opportunities to study and perform.
“It was great to meet kids with similar musical interests,” she said about the Winthrop honors band clinic. A highlight was the opportunity to play band music at “a whole other level.”
Like Laird, Kitson also played the piano since elementary school and had dreams of playing another instrument before switching to the tuba, where he has made his mark. “I started out playing the trombone in sixth grade because it was the only one with a slide,” Kitson recalled. “I switched to the tuba in seventh grade because I really stunk at the trombone.”
Kitson thoroughly enjoyed the trip to Winthrop, and judges selected him to participate in the clinic’s top band. He described the music as more challenging and enjoyed playing with a group of students performing for the same purpose.
“They all wanted to play music and play it well,” he said.
While Summerlin will no doubt continue to play the clarinet on the side following high school graduation, he doesn’t plan, at this point, to continue formal musical studies in college. He was less nervous about traveling to Winthrop this year, since clinic officials picked him to participate last year.
Similar to Kitson and Laird, Summerlin wanted to play another instrument when he joined band in middle school. “I wanted to play the sax, and sixth-graders must play the clarinet before they are allowed to play the sax,” he explained. Turns out he liked the clarinet and was pretty good, an exciting revelation for him since Summerlin had no previous musical training at the time.
Summerlin, nevertheless, enjoyed his second time around. “People are really focused on the music,” he said, “and get the chance to play music at a level like nothing they get to experience at school.”