Turner Ashby High Band On A Roll

Posted: April 15, 2014

Staff Writer

The Turner Ashby Marching Knights performed in Disney’s Light Parade held April 11-13 at the Magic Kingdom theme park in Orlando, Fla. (Courtesy Photo)

Turner Ashby senior trumpeter Will Jones rarely feels nervous during performances.

Since his middle school band instructor recommended Jones give it a try, the now 18-year-old has spent the past six years mastering the brass instrument.

“I used to get really nervous in middle school, when I’d audition,” admitted Jones.  

“I’m going into music for college and auditions are going to be part of the deal, so I’ve gotten used to it.”

But one February morning, as he made his way to the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts on the James Madison University campus for his All-Virginia Symphonic Band audition, a wave of doubt hit.

However, the aspiring professional cruise ship musician has learned to mask the stress and used it to his advantage.

“I didn’t get nervous until right when I walked in the door of the audition,” he admitted, “but, when I’m shaking, I have good vibrato, which helps me shake the notes.”

After spending 10 minutes displaying his talents to a row of judges, each of whom were seated behind a wall, Jones was forced to play the waiting game.

“I didn’t think I was going to make it at all,” said a modest Jones, who plans to major in music at JMU.

Much to his delight, his prediction rang false: Jones was selected as one of the 10 trumpet players to represent the AVSB.

“To find out I was in the symphonic band, that was pretty cool,” said Jones, who was one of just eight students from the district selected to the prestigious ensemble.

“I was really excited.”

An ‘Exceptional’ Year
Other sections of the TA band have made their presence felt at competitions throughout the last eight months, in a year that Director of Bands Rob Nash calls “exceptional.”

 “We’re definitely on a high year,” said Nash, currently in his 18th year as the school’s director of bands.  “This has been a standout year during my time [with TA].”

One of the standout moments came during the annual VBODA State Concert Band Assessment held March 14 in Broadway, when the Wind and Percussion ensemble performed three pieces, each of which earned superior ratings — the highest achievement.

“[The event] is pretty much like the band’s version of the SOLs,” explained Nash.  “They received a superior rating from all three judges, and actually one of the judges gave them a perfect paper, which is straight ‘As’.”

A Magical Trip
Last October, the TA Marching Knights finished third in the division during the annual Parade of Champions, held at JMU, while also earning “Best Music” and “Best Visual Performance” designations.

In November, Nash called the band’s performance “top notch,” and added that the students “absolutely performed at their highest level.”

Nash then decided to send an audition tape to Disney in hopes of earning the opportunity to perform at the annual “Light Parade,” held April 11-13 at the Magic Kingdom theme park in Orlando, Fla.

A month later, the Marching Knights were named one of three ensembles nationwide selected to perform.

“There’s going to be thousands and thousands of people in attendance,” said Nash.  “All [of the students] are really excited.”

TA Principal Steve Walk’s pride in the band’s endeavors is evident.

“Everybody involved with Turner Ashby is proud of their accomplishments,” boasted Walk.  “The kids have worked extremely hard and take their music very seriously.

“We’re all very happy for them to be recognized in this manner.”

Contact Matt Gonzales at (540) 574-6265 or mgonzales@dnronline.com.

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