Early Middle School band scores at UIL contest

STEVE NASH steve.nash@brownwoodbulletin.com
Rachel Acker, an eighth-grade member of the Early Middle School Advanced Band, plays her clarinet with the band as it practices Friday morning under the direction of Robert Chapleau. The band earned First Division ratings in both Concert Pe rformance and Sight-Reading at the March 25 UIL Concert and Sight-Reading Contest in Llano, and also, for the first time in the history of Early Middle School, earned the UIL Sweepstakes trophy.

Members of the Early Middle School Advanced Band joked that "Mr. Chap" was going to cry after hearing the accolades they aimed at him.

"Mr. Chap" is Robert Chapleau, the middle school band director. Chapleau fired back accolades of his own, saying he is "extremely proud" of the band's accomplishment at the UIL Concert and Sight-Reading Contest on Llano on March 25.

The band "posted a landmark achievement," Chapleau said, earning First Division ratings in both Concert Performance and Sight-Reading. And, for the first time in the history of Early Middle School, the band earned the UIL Sweepstakes trophy, Chapleau said.

The band also earned a Sweepstakes trophy on March 20 at the Cisco College Music Festival, marking the third consecutive year of receiving that award.  "They worked really hard this year," Chapleau said of the band. Chapleau said the band had mastered a challenging program for the March 25 UIL contest.

"That was awesome. We made history," eighth-grade clarinet player Rachel Acker said.

Chris Pruett, a seventh-grade French horn player, credited "Mr. Chap."

"Thanks to Mr. Chap here … he pushed us to our limits," Chris said.

Seventh-grade trumpet player Paetra Davis said "we wouldn't be here" had it not been for the way Chapleau challenged them.

"I think it's pretty cool," seventh-grade flute player Kamryn Bell said of the band's accomplishments.

This year's band has 70 members — up from 32 in 2011, which was Chapleau's first year in Early. And the band is likely to continue to grow.

"If we keep the sixth-grade beginners, we'll be up around 90 or 95," Chapleau said.