No More Honor Bands

Every year for the last 4 years Whitney Young has sent at least one student from its rigorous Band program down to the Illinois Music Educators Conference, a yearly gathering  of music directors, educators, and students, in Peoria, Illinois. This conference is a place for music educators to share different ideas and approaches to music. Additionally, it is a time for students who are religiously committed to their craft to showcase their skills in front of a broad audience and hopefully gain some recognition as well as some tips on how to hone in on their skills. 

However this year, with the COVID-19 pandemic still very much active, this statewide convention will not be possible for Whitney Young students to attend in person. Obviously a convention hosting thousands of people will not be possible, so IMEC has proposed virtual versions of the district level festivals instead. This idea has had some mixed reactions. When told about the new proposal for this year, former Whitney Young student and drummer Charlie O’Neill (ILMEA District Jazz Band Finalist 2019) said, “What’s the point? What a waste of time.” 

However, I, a student interested in being a part of these honor bands, still see this state festival, as well as the many national honor bands (such as NYO and YoungArts), as an opportunity to network with musicians on the collegiate level in hopes of obtaining an in to the nation’s top music schools. Some of the national organizations, like National Youth Orchestra,  have even gone as far as to not hold any type of virtual gatherings period. 

Whitney Young senior Joshua Mhoon ‘21 who had, “looked forward to getting to travel this year with NYO” and sought to “perfect his playing under the many world renowned directors this summer” was “deeply dismayed” upon hearing this. 

YoungArts, which is an organization that is catered towards all fields of art and not exclusively musicians, has chosen to still accept applications for this year. This program helps highly accomplished artists recieve financial awards, creative and professional development experiences working with renowned mentors, and become eligible for nomination as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts.

While there may not be as many opportunities for high school musicians this year there are still some “virtual opportunities” available. Given this is the reality we are living in, we as musicians have to adapt to the environment, making the best of what is still available. 


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No More Honor Bands