MILTON — The Hobbs Middle School band has a pair of gifts for the school’s 50th anniversary this year: a record number of students selected for both all-county and all-state bands.

Band director Robert Colon said this year judges selected 41 students for the all-county band, breaking the previous record of 36 set in 2016. Additionally, judges selected four for the all-state band. Previously, only one student passed the state audition.

“To get accomplished what they accomplished is amazing,” Colon said. “They are so self-motivated.” 

The Florida Bandmasters Association set some hefty requirements for the September all-state band auditions, Colon said. Students had to perform seven major scales from memory, a full dramatic scale, two difficult FBA-selected pieces and one sight-reading piece. Sight reading refers to playing a song from sheet music with little to no preparation — in this case, 30 seconds.

Following the two-month decision-making process, Colon learned how many students made the state band.

“It’s an honor to have one selected,” he said. “To have a year to have four selected is just an extreme honor.”

Colon said that Hobbs is in the same line as other Florida magnet and fine arts schools who regularly have four students make it to the all-state bands.

Following this auspicious news, Colon said he was amazed again learning of the 41 students who made all-county band. In seven instrument sections Hobbs students placed first, he said, and in nine sections they placed in the top three.

Judges from multiple counties conducted the Nov. 6 auditions, Colon said, evaluating hundreds of students from across the county.

On top of these achievements, Colon said, the band will feature prominently in the school's 50th anniversary celebration playing an original piece by William Owens, a symphonic band director from Texas, who will fly out in the spring to conduct the band himself.

“Owens has been commissioned to write a piece for our anniversary," Colon said, "and we are thrilled.”

Colon said it will take fundraising to help cover the cost of the commission. Anyone interested in making a donation can write a check to Hobbs Middle Band special to “50th anniversary commissioned piece.”

Hobbs principal, Brandon Koger said that as an administrator it is a neat thing to watch band students who are so unique.

“Their level of commitment to that program is something special,” he said. “It is not easy to learn a piece of music or learn an instrument.”