They may only be in eighth grade but Carthage Junior High students Cora Burkhart and Eden Rominger can already call themselves seasoned musicians.

They may only be in eighth grade but Carthage Junior High students Cora Burkhart and Eden Rominger can already call themselves seasoned musicians.
They've marched in the Maple Leaf Parade, excelled with their bandmates and on their own on the music contest circuit, and been critiqued by a world-renowned professional musician.
Burkhart and Rominger are members of the Junior High Concert and Jazz bands, individually they play three instruments each, and they're looking forward to more later this year and into their high school years.
“My goals are just to become a better musician,” Rominger said. “No matter how high or which band I get into, I just know I'm going to become a better musician out of it all.”
“In high school there are two marching bands and two jazz bands, an upper marching band and lower marching band and upper jazz band and lower jazz band,” added Burkhart. “Honestly, I don't care which one I get in because whichever one I get in, I just want to make it better.”

A good year
Matt Bennett, Carthage Junior High music teacher and band director, said 2017-18 has been a really good year for the Junior High Concert and Jazz bands in both seventh and eighth grades.
• On Feb. 24, the Junior High Jazz Ensemble received first place at the Missouri State Jazz Festival for the second year in a row.
• On March 2, the Junior High Jazz Ensemble received straight 1 (Exemplary) ratings from judges at the at the Pittsburg State University Jazz Festival.
• On March 3, the eighth grade band receive straight 1 (Exemplary) ratings from judges at the Marshfield Band Festival. In addition, seventh and eighth grade soloists performed. In total, Carthage received 19 1 ratings and 17 2 ratings.
“It's been a really good year for them, especially in the last couple of weeks with the contest season,” Bennett said. “That's kind of what they prepare for the second semester.”
Bennett said the first place award at Missouri State was a surprise because the band entered as a non-competitive group, but the festival gave them a trophy for their performance anyway.
At the PSU Jazz Festival, the Jazz Ensemble performed a “fully-memorized program, no music stands or music.”
“That's great for that age group,” Bennett said.

Special students
Bennett said Eden Rominger and Cora Burkhart are outstanding musicians in many ways, and in many ways typical of many of the students in the Junior High Band program.
In addition to playing in Concert and Jazz bands, Burkhart plays the flute, saxophone and piccolo and Rominger plays baritone sax, tuba, and base guitar.
“They're both involved in Jazz band and Concert Band, so they could see it from both perspectives,” Bennett said. “They play multiple instruments, so they're spreading themselves out a lot and getting a lot of experience with a lot of different styles of instruments, plus they're just good kiddos. We've got a special group of kiddos here.”
Rominger and Burkhart said one of the special moments they'll remember for a long time was being critiqued by musician Mike Williams, the lead trumpet player for the Count Basie Orchestra.
“It was crazy,” Burkhart said. “We were playing a song that was written for the Count Basie Orchestra. I'm glad I didn't know he was our clinician ahead of time because I would have been really nervous.”
Rominger said she was surprised he took the time to speak to a junior high band. She said he had a lot of good tips.
“Because of how experienced he is, we thought he'd probably go with the high school hands,” Rominger said.
Bennett said this group will take some good experiences with them as they head to high school and beyond.
“We want to build a good high school band obviously,” Bennett said. “We want to build, more importantly, good citizens, kiddos that understand how to work as a team, and that it also takes some individual work to be a good contributor to a team. It's like a sports team or any athletic team, I think the more we try to drive that to them, regardless of what avenue they decide to take, they'll be a good addition to any group or team.”