RANTOUL — The Eater Concert Band and the Bulldog Jazz Band both earned Superior ratings — the highest ratings a band can receive — in state competitions recently.

The concert band competed April 26 at Plainfield Junior High School in the Illinois Grade School Music Association Concert Band Festival — going up against some of the best junior high bands in Illinois.

The jazz band won its Superior rating in the IGSMA State Jazz Band festival May 4 at Hinsdale Middle School.

Both bands advanced to state competition with strong showings in February at the IGSMA contest at Bloomington Junior High School.

Each band received a Division 1 rating, which made them eligible for the IGSMA State Band Contest.  

At Bloomington, the Eater Concert Band performed three selections: “The Tell-Tale Heart,” which is based on the Edgar Allen Poe story of the same title; “Arabian Dances”; and “El Relicario.”  

The Bulldog Jazz Band selections were “Blue Charlie Brown,”  “Watermelon Man” and “Caravan.”  

At the conclusion of their performances each group had a short clinic session with one of the judges. The clinic addressed an area of deficiency in the band, and the clinician helped the students to improve.

Eater band director Jane Jordahl said after the band received its first-place rating, one of the students remarked, “I thought that we did terrible because the judge pointed out an area of weakness in our group.”  

“So, one of the lessons that all of the students learned was that even though you receive constructive criticism, that does not mean that you did not do a good job,” Jordahl said.

The students used the suggestions of the judges and continued to prepare for the State Band Contest. The concert band swapped the previously played “Arabian Dances” for “Dance of the Tumblers” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and the jazz band inserted “Sing, Sing, Sing” by Louis Prima for “Blue Charlie Brown.”  

“The new pieces required a lot of quick learning, while the pieces that remained had to be refined and perfected to prepare for the higher standard that is required at the state band contest,” Jordahl said.

Jordahl said students in the band program at Eater have “worked very hard this year.”

“They spend many hours outside of class preparing so that they can contribute positively during class,” she said. “In addition, they volunteer to perform at many civic events as well — for example Veterans Day ceremonies, Memorial Day rituals and the 4th of July Parade.  They are very proud of their accomplishments and continue to work hard through the end of the year.”

All of the bands at Eater Junior High School — the Eater Concert Band, Bulldog Jazz Band, Blue & Gold Cadet Band, Dog Pound Jazz Band and Combined Band —  will present their final concert of the year at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 16, in the Eater gym.

SUMMER BAND PROGRAM

Eater also has a four-week summer band program that is open to students who have completed fifth grade through eighth grade. The dates of the program are June 10 through July 5.

Beginning band students may attend the band instrument display from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 21, at the junior high school. Students can try different instruments, choose an instrument to play in the band, sign up for summer band and make arrangements to rent an instrument on that evening.

This is a “come-and-go” event so families may come at their convenience during this evening.

Anyone with questions about the band program at Eater may contact Jordahl.