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GBMS Band receives 34th consecutive Superior rating
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Clinician and judge Robert Bitter leads the GBMS 8th grade band through a complicated piece selected for their in-house contest entry on Wednesday, Feb. 27. Both the 7th and 8th grade bands won Superior ratings, marking the 34th year in a row for the GBMS band. - photo by Veronica Coons

Tuesday night, Feb. 26, GBMS band teacher Kurtis Koch directed the 7th and 8th grade bands in their spring performances in the middle school gymnasium.  A separate concert was held for each grade.  The following day, he announced, they would take part in an in-house contest and be judged by a district clinician.  

Both the 7th and 8th grade bands received Advanced Performance ratings at the contest, marking the 34th year in a row of receiving Superior ratings for the band department.  

Robert Bitter, a retired band director for Skyline High School in Pratt was the clinician and judge.  

He visits about 15 schools a week, he said.  He gave high ratings to both bands.

“They’re both at the top of the lists,” Bitter said. “What they’re doing really reflects a lot of good teaching.”

During the 8th grade clinic, after Koch led the band through their competition piece, Bitter praised them and began fine tuning the performance with emphasis on accents and the length of time certain staccato notes should be held.  Later, he commented that most 8th grade bands would not yet be at a level where that would be possible.   

“There would be wrong notes and wrong rhythms, but these bands are so well prepared, you can get to the little tiny details that make them even better yet,” he said.   “At a competition with other schools, they would have ended up on top.”