RUSSELLVILLE - The alto saxophone section of the Russellville High School Band received some handy tips to improve their sound after two members returned from the Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville 26th Annual Bi-State Band.
Cole County R-1 Schools seniors Khala Schulte and Kayla Smith were the first from their school ever to attend, based on nomination.
For their audition, the judge listened to scales and sight-reading. The Russellville musicians simply hoped to not land in the last chair of their nine-piece section, which they didn't.
The sectional rehearsals helped them improve their skills and bring back embessure tips for their Russellville section.
And Smith intends to find a book recommended by the judge in the hopes of improving her solo for the district music festival.
Some of the music was different from what Smith and Schulte were used to playing, which they enjoyed.
Among the concert repertoire were "CrossGate," "Liberty Bell," "Folk song Suite," and "Amazing Grace."
"It's a good senior memory," Smith said.
Both Schulte and Smith hope to join the band programs in college.
"It's something we can do forever," Smith said.
Schulte enjoys playing her saxophone. She also enjoys being a member of the Russellville High School Band, because so few students are in the program, she said.
And Smith joined the band her senior year after being out since eighth grade.
Her class schedule didn't allow for her to be in the band class. But she made it a priority for her senior year, Smith said.
"I really liked band and with Mr. (Shawn) Smith it's been growing and I wanted to get back in it," Smith said.
Without band director Mr. Smith's development of the Russellville band program over the last three years, both musicians agreed they would not have had the opportunity to participate in the bi-state band.
Three years ago, the band resumed a marching program, which took first place at the Versailles Apple Festival parade. That same year the band instigated a new tradition of marching the hallways to lead students into the gym for the Friday homecoming pep assembly, Smith recalled.
The pep band, a first for the school also under Mr. Smith, has added to the atmosphere, the saxophonists agreed. Though seniors, Smith and Schulte hope they will get to wear the new pep band uniforms - blue and white cardigans and bow ties - before the end of the basketball season.
"I don't want to miss out on that," Smith said.