By Eve Nevelos, Editorial Staff ‘24

Each year, Eisenhower, Valley, and Franklin Avenue middle schools join Ramapo and Indian Hills at alternating high schools for a joint music festival. This year, the FLOW Festival was hosted by the Indian Hills band in the auditorium on February 9th. The Indian Hills band performed a West Side Story medley, featured in their December concert, and a Jersey Boys medley, to be performed on their California Disney trip on March 16th

This program, along with student outreach, visiting the middle schools, and marching band eighth grade nights, introduces middle school band students to high school music directors, students, and more challenging music. “The FLOW Festival is important because it’s a culmination of what we’re doing recruiting wise. The four directors, both at Ramapo and Ms. Heerema and I here, have been hitting the middle schools. We’ve been going to Eisenhower, Valley, and FAMS […] It’s about promoting the high school music program and continuing. We get to play with each other and for each other and talk about what it is like in high school and how to join and sign up for classes,” Mr. Friedman, Indian Hills’ wind ensemble and symphonic band director, explains. After the performance, Lily Duarte, junior flutist, commented, “I think [the FLOW Festival is] fun. It can be really inspiring for middle schoolers!” Hannah Lewis, another junior flutist added, “It’s cool to see people from other schools and hear what they’re working on!” Continuing attendance in high school band and choir programs will allow for the program’s health and security. 

During the concert, high school students were seated alongside middle school students in their performances to boost confidence and encourage them to continue music in high school. Mr. Friedman adds, “This year was the first year that we planted wind ensemble members from both bands in each of the three middle schools [band performances]. Having a side-by-side situation can spark some people or scare the heck out of them, but I think it’s a good thing. It’s good for the high school kids because they feel important – and they are, they’re doing a good thing – and it’s excellent for the younger players to have older kids sitting next to them to look up to.” Older players had the opportunity to mentor younger players, a beneficial experience for all involved. The FLOW Festival ended with Eisenhower, Valley, FAMS, Ramapo, and Hills students playing John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever, a patriotic American march. The new connections between younger and older players will aid the middle schoolers in their transition to high school.