Sheldon middle school band playing

Director Jeana Larson directs the Sheldon Middle School band on Monday, May 6. The band played the world premier of "Tides of Resolution," an original composition it inspired during the May 6 show.

SHELDON—Sheldon may be known as the city “Where families come first,” but the community was first at something else on Monday, May 6.

The world premiere of “Tides of Resolution,” an original composition by Jared Barnes, was performed by the Sheldon Middle School band in the Sheldon High School auditorium as part of the former group’s spring concert.

Middle school band director Jeana Larson and Barnes attended Wartburg College in Waverly, which is how the opportunity came about.

Barnes is a professional composer who is published through C.L. Barnhouse Co. of Oskaloosa and the band director for Northwood-Kensett High School in Northwood.

As a way to implement technology into her curriculum — something Sheldon teachers are doing districtwide — Larson assigned all of her seventh- and eighth-grade band students an essay assignment titled “If I Were a Composer . . .”

“They had to tell me what kind music they would want, what kind of instrumentation they would want in their piece — if there was anything special — and then they had to tell an essay story,” Larson said.

Sixty-five essays were turned in and Larson narrowed that down to 10 and then recruited members of her building’s language arts staff to help her narrow it down to three.

Those three essays were submitted to Barnes so he could turn them into “Tides of Resolution.”

The three students who had their pieces selected were eighth-grade tube player Noah Dagel, seventh-grade clarinetist Abigail Otto and seventh-grade euphonium player Hailey Honkomp.

“All three of their essays — well, most of the kids’ stories — had to do with conflict and resolution of them, that’s why it’s called ‘Tides of Resolution,’” Larson said.

Otto’s essay focused on Greek mythology, Honkomp’s story featured a World War II veteran telling his grandson about the experience and Dagel wrote about the evolution of man through time.

“I was really impressed with Noah’s,” Larson said. “In the early part of man they fought over food and stuff like that, then the Industrial Revolution times — fighting over land — and modern to future times having a nuclear holocaust-type situation.

“Then, even though all of this bad stuff that happens through time, humanity still comes through in history. And that’s how the piece ends; very hopeful sounding.”

The band practiced for about a month before the concert on May 6. The performance was recorded so that it could be submitted to Barnes’ publisher. The composer’s role in this is not quite over yet.

“We’re going to have Jared Skype in and talk to the kids about the composition process,” Larson said.

Overall, Larson has enjoyed this lesson and is amazed at how her students took to it.

“It’s kind of neat to watch the kids. When I first did the project, they were like, ‘Ugh, why are you making us write?’ — because I didn’t tell them what it was for,” she said.

“I just said, ‘OK, if you were a composer, what would you do?’ “Then I sent these top three entries to Jared and then I put the piece in front of them and said, ‘You know those stories I made you write? Here’s the piece based off of them.’ Now, they think it’s cool.”