OTTUMWA — Seasoned musicians and first-year students shared the stage Monday evening during the Ottumwa High School Instrumental Springfest Concert.
The event featured the OHS String Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra, Jazz Band and Wind Ensemble and was the final concert for the school year.
“I think that it is the most difficult concert of the year,” said orchestra director Patty Babb. “We really focus on rhythm and counting by this time of year, and the students can show their talents.”
The music department at OHS continues to be popular with students year after year with around 150 participating in some aspect of the department. Many students choose to learn multiple instruments and will join the different groups to showcase that instrument, Babb said. It gives the students a chance to try a little bit of everything, and then they can decide which one they are most passionate about.
Babb has been teaching for 31 years and moved from teaching middle school to high school six years ago. She has had a long relationship with many of the students, having taught some for eight years in a row. Many of these students were presented with various awards at the end of the concert.
“We like to recognize extra effort and do this with a point system throughout the year,” Babb said. “If they participate in various events throughout the year, they earn points and work their way up to a letter award.”
With one school year ending and seniors leaving the program, it opens up positions for all the other interested students. New opportunities and experiences are presented to the students already in the program, and the flow continues on.
“We don’t want art programs to be pushed to the back burner. It needs to be kept in front, and OHS does a great job at this and supporting the arts,” Babb said. “It is so important for the future that kids become involved in the arts and stay involved.”