3 long days, hello MPA

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Photo by Olivia Arnett

The FVHS band room served a critical function for students as the sight-reading room for this year’s MPA.

Olivia Arnett, Staff Writer

During March 21-23, FVHS students definitely noticed a section of the school blocked off, a large group of other teenagers in all black attire walking through campus, or just large travel buses parked across from the school. That was not a funeral, it was MPA (Music Performance Adjudication) and FVHS was hosting. 

Forty-two bands showed up to Fuquay Varina High School’s campus as FVHS was hosting the event. While many were in their classes doing schoolwork, from the first floor in the auditorium, bands were performing pieces they’ve been refining for months.

MPA

During a band MPA, bands generally play three music pieces, get scored by three judges and then move on to sight-reading (playing music that hasn’t been practiced before or recently), which also gets scored.

From those four adjudicators you are given a score one through five (in roman numerals) based on various categories, from lowest to highest rank V is poor, IV is fair, III good, II excellent, and I is a superior. The numbers are then averaged out for the overall score.

There is also the option to just perform in front of the judges for their comments and not a score. As while an adjudicator doesn’t only give a score, on the judge sheet they can make comments and there is also the recording with most of the judges thoughts. Having the ability to just focus on refining the program and not about the score. 

Our two bands here at Fuquay-Varina High School, the Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble performed on Monday, March 21. After months of hard work both bands did really well, getting superiors from all four judges. For some there wasn’t much time to celebrate, since they still had to work MPA the next day. 

Helping out during MPA

Throughout those three days many band kids helped out MPA, doing various jobs such as stage crew, guides, sight-reading assistants, and judge runners. Some worked during the school day, being allowed to skip those classes, or after school which ran late, around 8-9 p.m. Of course, whenever the band room was not in use kids were free to get snacks out of the band room’s kitchen. 

Working MPA allowed many of them to interact and see how other bands run their programs. Getting to watch how some of the other bands warm up or any special rituals they have, be tame or on the wild side.

There’s only so much I can convey about MPA on my own, so here are some of the other band kids’ thoughts about the event.

“As someone who worked at MPA for two out of the three days it was just an amazing experience to be able to work behind the scenes for such a huge event. I worked in the sight-reading room and it was pretty cool observing how other bands work together to accomplish something a bit more challenging. I also got to go backstage with the stage crew to watch a couple performances (don’t tell anybody I did that haha) and I also thought that was cool just watching a performance from a different perspective other than watching as an audience member or performing myself.” – Sydney Spaulding, Sophomore, Symphonic Band

“It was super cool getting to see all of these incredible programs continuing to make music after covid, and we didn’t even have to leave our school!” – Kyle Philps, Senior, Wind Ensemble

“It was really great to be able to get together with the wind bands of the area and make great music again. I did MPA every year from seventh grade through ninth grade and having not done it for three years made me really miss the experience. Music-making is already such a wonderful experience on its own, but being able to share that with the community in such a colossal event is really special, especially considering we got to host MPA in the new campus and see all the behind-the-scenes of how to run the show. 42 bands from around Wake County came to FVHS over three days, as well as an extremely talented set of judges, clinicians, and other staff, and as a senior I couldn’t ask for a better last MPA.” – Quinn Anderson, Senior, Wind Ensemble

After all the hard work of MPA the band isn’t slowing down, preparing more pieces for their next concert! It’ll be plenty of effort, but at least this time the parents will be the “judges”, they’re very generous with their scoring.