Band gets superior seal of approval

Band director Lance Pruitt had a musical mission to accomplish long before he had heard even the first note float through the new Helena Middle School.

“Three days before school started the football coach came to me and asked that the band play at the Meet the Panthers pep rally,” Pruitt said. “I was kind of shocked because I didn’t even know what my students looked like and they hadn’t even heard my name.”

Pruitt and his students easily met the first challenge and have taken on numerous ones since. At the end of April the HMS band placed first in the middle school division of the Dynamic Music Festivals Band and Choir Competition in Orlando, Fla.

They beat out schools from both Louisiana and Florida and were the only middle school to receive a Superior rating at all during the competition.

Before traveling to Florida, the band performed at the district music assessment in February. The students also received a Superior rating there.

Pruitt said he didn’t start from scratch when the school opened however. He said much of the credit goes to the work Riverchase Band Director Amy Moore did with the kids before the school split.

What he has done is challenge the students to continually improve.

“I try not to pick music that is right at their level cause that’s when music gets boring,” Pruitt said. “They need to constantly push themselves to learn new things. This is a skill they can use until they physically can’t pick up an instrument.”

Pruitt said the music isn’t easy, but it is fun. The band performed songs like “Fiesta la Vita” by Robert W. Smith and “Achilles Wrath” by Sean O’Loughlin at the Florida competition.

The band will perform its last concert of the season Monday, May 11 at 7 p.m. at Pelham High School.