Elementary musicians blend their sound with high school band


Novice flutist Aanchal Nagpal, 10, got a chance to play the infectious and fun "Pink Panther Theme" earlier this week with much wiser and experienced musicians -- students from Wilde Lake High School at Riverhill.

"It was fun and neat because they could help us out with our notes," said Aanchal, a fifth-grader at Clarksville Elementary School.

Despite being ages and grades apart, band members from Clarksville Elementary's advanced band and the neighboring Wilde Lake High School band were playing from the same sheet music Monday afternoon. Together, they performed a "demo concert" in the elementary school's cafeteria to inspire fourth- and fifth-graders to join the elementary school band and introduce them to instruments.

"It's almost like a mini mentoring program," Gary Dailey, the elementary school's band director, said. "Fourth- and fifth-graders get a chance to hear what it means to play for years. So the little guys will see what the big guys are doing."

Dylan Gentile, 16, a junior at Wilde Lake who volunteered to spend time with the younger students, said, "It's just a chance to work with kids and be a role model."

The bands got together a month after Wilde Lake High students, staff and administrators moved into their temporary two-year home at the new River Hill High School in Clarksville, about a half mile from the elementary school. The Wilde Lake students are attending the new school while waiting for another high school to be built.

The high schoolers have about six years' experience playing instruments, while the elementary students have played instruments for only one year, Mr. Dailey said.

Monday was the first time that the two bands performed together. They sat side by side in the cafeteria, while third-, fourth- and fifth-graders sat on the floor, some observing, some bouncing.

During a jazzy version of "Pink Panther," members of both bands approached the microphone for solos.

When Wilde Lake students moved next to Clarksville Elementary, the high school's band director, Lou Dutroh, approached Clarksville Elementary Principal Bill Jenkins to see if his band could use the elementary's grounds for practice.

They decided that the two bands should play together. They did, but not without surprises.

"They were really astounded how short the beginners were," Mr. Dailey said.

Wilde Lake senior Cristina Turney, 17, enjoyed the experience. "I think they looked up to us, if only for a couple of hours," she said.

Fifth-grader Sarah Moorefield, 11, said she learned something, too.

"If you were next to them or something, and if you played an "F" or something and it didn't sound good, they would make it strong," she said.

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