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Taft Jazz Band Conquers Texas Festival
Mid-school musicians win “Best of Class” in Amarillo performance.
Taft band students gather around their director Dr. Rod Daniel and their "outstanding" trophy outside the Great Southwest Music Festival.
May 15, 2012
The Taft Middle School jazz and symphonic bands joined some 12,000 students at the Great Southwest Music Festival in Amarillo, Texas, recently. While both played well, the jazz band took home “Best of Class” honors as the top jazz group at the event.
Actually, they didn’t even take it home; a trophy “the size of a Volkswagen” arrived by mail.
“I can't tell you how proud I am of the accomplishments of my students,” Taft band director Dr. Rod Daniel said. “They worked hard, they understood the value of long-range goals, and they succeeded at the highest possible level.”
According to Daniel, such festivals in Texas are challenging because communities in the state place a high value on music in schools. The jazz band already knew it had performed well, as it came home with an “outstanding” trophy, the highest award the judges could give. The “Best of Class” honor was a surprise.
What is not a surprise to Daniel, however, is what a growing music program has accomplished at Taft.
“The number of students participating in music at Taft has grown each year for the past seven years, and each year our DBA and SBA test scores have increased,” Daniel said. “Most of my colleagues at Taft, and myself included, see a clear relationship between increased access to arts education and increased test scores. I have no doubt that our language arts and math teachers worked very hard to make that happen, but I also credit the increased access to arts education as a major element in the academic growth of our students.”