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Wells Middle School Band Dominates at Foothill Band Review and Field Show

October 27, 2011

Wells Middle School Trophies - Foothill Band Review Competition

As we move into the Fall sports season, many families immediately think of athletics – football or basketball. There is another competitive season heating up – in the realm music – where Band Review competitions take center stage. Over successive Saturdays (10/15/11 and 10/22/11), the Wells Middle School band competed at the Santa Cruz and Foothill Band Review competitions, respectively. met with the Wells Middle School band program to learn more about the history of the program and recent achievements.

The Instrumental Music Instructor at Wells Middle School is Erik Bertelson. A native of Iowa, Erik’s family moved to Southern California when he was a young child. Erik’s home was filled with music: his father was a music teacher for decades and his mother was a singer. Upon earning his B.A. in Music from California Lutheran University, Mr. Bertelson landed a teaching position at Wells Middle School in 1979 at the age of 23. While Wells, which had opened in 1971, had an established music program, Erik forged forward to build a more robust program. On the heels of their most recent competition, had the opportunity to sit down with the pioneer of this successful program.

Results from the Foothill Band Review and Field Show for Wells Middle School:

  • Drum Major Middle School Awards: First Place
  • Parade Percussion Middle School: Second Place
  • Parade Color Guard – Middle School: First Place
  • Parade Middle School Class: First Place
  • Concert – Middle School Class: First Place How can you explain the sustained excellence of this program?

Wells Middle School Music Director Erik Bertelson

Erik Bertelson: “As it should be, it’s all about the musicians. I try to select music that they like and will respond to. When I introduce new pieces, I can immediately tell by their expressions if we have a fit. They constantly give me feedback.” Can you describe the difference between the program in 1979 and today?

Bertelson: “Well, the group was much smaller back then. We might have had about 40 kids. Today, we had 112 students participate in the Foothill Review. The parental support has also been tremendous. After ten years on the job initially, the parent community really stepped in to support us. This allowed us to pursue the Disneyland trips, organization of the uniforms, transportation of our gear and fundraising. We wouldn’t be where we are without these parents.” So, after all of these years, do you still receive a “buzz” through these competitions and what are your aspirations for your program?

Bertelson: “Of course, yes, I can’t believe it! On Mondays, I can’t wait to share the direct feedback from the judges. But in reality, my primary hope is that we can improve as a group and just get better. We listen to music on CD’s played by professional musicians. I don’t expect perfection, but I want them to hear what it is supposed to sound like. I also do not place an emphasis on the competition. My philosophy is that everyone that shows up is a musician. We are here for a performance and that we’ll all do our best. If we all agree to this, we will all be successful.” Lastly, we have to ask. How many trophies do you have in the band room?

Bertelson: “A few years ago, I had someone try to count. After they reached over 100, they stopped.”

To round out this story, we must recognize another key element of a musical troop – Parade Color Guard. Though not musical in definition, this is an essential element to the band experience. The Color Guard coach at Wells Middle School is Physical Education Instructor, Karey Ronnow. Karey attained her undergraduate degree in Kinesiology from San Jose State University and later an M.S. in Education. She obtained her multi-subject credential from the University of San Francisco. She has been an employee of the Dublin Unified School District since 2006. Karey has enjoyed the advantage of participating in Color Guard in her earlier life as a student in the Tri-Valley. OneDublin.Org had the opportunity to speak with her about her experiences. Tell us about your crew.

Wells Middle School Teacher Karey Ronnow

Karey Ronnow: “I call them ‘my girls’. I have ten active students and we practice on Mondays and Wednesdays – about 3.5 hours per week when we are in competition mode.” As a leader, how much motivation do you need to provide?

Ronnow: “They get it. I see myself more as a Director/Overseer. I think that they are providing more of their own self-motivation. This year, our Co-Captains, Annie Wortham and Delaney Phipps are providing great leadership to the group.” The Color Guard performed reasonably well at Santa Cruz – but maybe not up to the group’s expectations. There was a dramatic difference in their performance at Foothill – what was the strategy?

Ronnow: “We didn’t have much time – only one week. We listened to the audio feedback from the judges at Santa Cruz and reviewed the video from our prior performance. We were able to make corrections and found areas where we could add to our formation/footwork. It was so rewarding to know that enhancements that we put into place added to our outcome. Regardless of outcome, we knew that we had improved our routine!”

Band programs continue to be an integral part of our children’s experience while at school. Take the opportunity to support Western Band Association (WBA) Field Show Competition at Dublin High School (Gael Stadium) this Saturday, October 29, starting at 4:30pm (details available here…)

Wells Middle School Music Room with Trophies

Wells Middle School Marching Band

Wells Middle School Band in Concert - Foothill Band Review Competition

  1. Cecelia Caston permalink
    October 29, 2011 6:04 am

    I so wish that I lived closer so that I could be a part of this great work!! This is a building block in the lives of the students and I am so pleased to see how blessed my granddaughter is to be able to participate in such a wonderful program with such committed and inspiring leadership!! Thank you all for your dedication and support!!

    Cecelia Caston, grandmother of Ashley Hedt, Color Guard “S”

  2. Tamsyn Lampkin permalink
    November 21, 2011 1:02 am

    i love wms colorguard i know ashley also i am the “E” in wells colorguard so excited for disneyland!

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