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Dundee: Regional powerhouse for bands

DUNDEE—The school year is almost over and it has been a successful one for the Dundee bands. The various bands and drum line have racked up awards from Gorham to Syracuse.
The bands picked up their latest award as Class C Champions at the Gorham Pageant of the Bands the last weekend in May.
Patrick Dunham, band instructor at Dundee, said this is the third time in five years the bands have won first place. He added the two years they have not placed first, they were second.
“Five years ago we got a taste of what it was like (to win),” he said. However, he added it is also about the bands doing their best.
In Class C, the high school concert band and drum lines placed first in their individual categories. The High school jazz band, marching band, junior high jazz band, and junior high concert band all placed second. The dance group that competed in Gorham won their division. Mindy Tortolon, the band instructor, said they competed against Naples, Sandy Lake (in Syracuse), Marathon, South Seneca. Kendall and Elba.
Dunham explained that this year’s concert band is mostly made up of freshmen because 16 members were seniors last year. Tortolon said she thought this would be their “growing year” as the new students learned the ropes. That new roster did not have an adverse affect on the bands’ winning. In fact, Dundee also placed second in the Seneca Falls Pageant of the Bands, May 16 and 17, of this year. The junior high concert band and the drum line won first place. The high school concert band and the jazz band won second place.
The Winter Percussion Ensemble/drumline also competed at the New York State Percussion Finals April 5. Dunham said that Dundee band was advanced a class to perform against other big schools in the state for the competition. Another accomplishment Dunham pointed out was the eight musicians from Dundee in the Empire Statesmen Drumcore. He said the school contributed four trumpet players, two mellophone players, one tube player and one to the drum line.
Tortolon said the Symphonic Steel Drum Band already has their schedule for the summer. Durham will be leading them at local events, including playing at the Windmill and the Italian American Festival parade in Watkins Glen. She added there are only a handful of school steel drum bands throughout the state.
Dunham also said Dundee has graduated several musicians continuing it in college bands. He said former students are performing with West Virginia University’s marching band and the Syracuse Orange Band. One of the students is trying out for the Penn State Blue Band.
The largest of the bands is the marching band which has 80 student musicians in it. Dunham said the high school concert band is made up of almost 40 students and the junior high concert band has almost 30. The high school jazz band has 25 members and the junior high jazz band 17. There are 34 students in the drum line/Winter Percussion Ensemble. There are 30 students in the Symphonic Steel Drum Band.
Dunham said the winter percussion is the most dedicated when it came to practicing. Since they meet from October to May, many winter sports needed the gym to practice after school. The drum line then came to school early from 7 to 7:40 a.m. just to practice. Since the junior and high school concert bands are required as part of the music curriculum, those practices took place three periods throughout the school week. Jazz band meets in the evenings twice a week and marching band is also scheduled around the sports teams.
He also said the reason he thinks the band members have been doing so well is the way music classes are taught. Dunham explained most schools have one instructor for grades four to seven and another for eight to 12. However, at Dundee Dunham teaches all brass instruments, Tortolon teaches the woodwind, and Kyle Knapton, a new hire, will teach percussion, no matter the grade level.
 





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