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All school sixth grade band showcases budding musicians
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Kurtis Koch, Great Bend Middle School band instructor, has worked to prepare sixth grade musicians for the rigors of band over the past year. Assisted by GBHS band director Mark DeWald and band directors Debra Koch, Central Kansas Christian Academy, and JoAnn Guant, Holy Family, Koch directed the Great Bend sixth grade band through a showcase performance for parents at the Great Bend High School gym. - photo by Veronica Coons

The Great Bend sixth grade citywide concert drew parent of musicians from each of the city’s elementary schools to the Great Bend High School auditorium Monday night for a showcase of skills learned over the past year.  Retiring middle school band teacher Kurtis Koch and high school band teacher Mark DeWald directed the students through nine pieces many former band students will recognize.  There were marches, like the “Here we go March”, Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”, some international folk songs like “Kum Bah Ya!” and “La Bamba”, and the finale, “Go, Great Bend!”

At the beginning of the concert, Koch directed the march, “The Crusaders” by Frank Erickson.  

“Frank Erickson wrote his own stuff because back in the 50s and 60s when he was teaching band, there really wasn’t much out there,” he said.  “This piece was written back in 1962, and I remember playing it back in grammar school, so that probably gives you an idea.”

Each year, Koch has followed the tradition of introducing the band members from each elementary school as  well as the guest schools, Central Kansas Christian Academy and Holy Family.  In all, over 90 students performed.  

Before the group played their final song, Koch thanked the other band instructors, the high school and the parents for making the concert possible.

“It seems as though every time I do an event like this, it’s for the last time,” he said, referring to his approaching retirement at the end of the school year.  Following the final piece, he reminded students to make sure they had their music and their instruments with them before leaving.

“There’s still class tomorrow, band isn’t over yet.”