Saxophone quartet scores high at states


The FHC band is known for being mighty in numbers and for producing fluent tunes for the whole school. A group of four seniors from the large band created a saxophone quartet group all on their own. Addie Morris, Emma Hall, Logan Vredenburg, and Emily Toppen took on the challenge of a hard piece of music, but embraced the road to success.

The quartet first started by getting together and deciding what song they would like to compete. The song they chose is “Drastic Measures” by Russell Peck.

“We wanted to do a really hard piece,” Addie said, “something that was at a college level.”

With the piece being at such a high level of playing difficulty, it took a lot of time and motivation to perfect it.

“For the first couple of weeks, even though we really enjoyed it, it was just really hard,” Emily said.

The group practiced continuously for months. They would practice before school, after school, late at night, and on the weekends. Not only did they practice all together, each individual member had to practice numerous times on their own time.

“It was a blast, we spent lots of late nights and early mornings together doing the same thing for hours on end, and I don’t think I could have enjoyed it more than I did,” Logan said.

Addie played soprano for the quartet, but she usually plays alto. She had to learn how to play as a soprano, as well as learn how to do the task of a slap tongue. Slap tongue is a really difficult technique to play. The reed is pulled away from the mouthpiece by one’s tongue, and it makes a percussive noise that isn’t usually produced by the saxophone.

“It was really fun when we performed it for the band because everyone got a real kick out of it,” Addie said.

However, it wasn’t all fun and games. The group had to work very hard to try to connect everyone’s schedules together to be able to practice. Each member of the quartet is involved in different extracurricular activities, so coming together to perform required deep dedication and positives attitudes. The amount of focus to detail needed for this piece was key to success for this group.

“The smallest things I could have done wrong could have potentially made the quartet much less successful,” Logan said.

There have been many enjoyable times that the quartet wanted to share. Logan talked about how much he enjoyed performing for Professor Nichol. He is the saxophone professor for Central Michigan University.

“My favorite part was getting to perform for Professor Nichol,” Logan said. “He actually taught Mr. Ash, our band director here at FHC.”

At districts, the group received all ones-the highest score possible- from the judges and this continued for the group at states. The group ended with straight A+’s for their state rating. They received these A+’s in all of their categories, including tone, intonation, rhythm, technique, and interpretation. They received a first division rating as their ranking from the judges– the perfect way to end a pleasant journey for the quartet. As they get ready to graduate, each member has recommended doing a quartet for a new and exciting experience in high school.

“I think this is a really cool way to leave the band program, having this under our belts,” Emily said.