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School of Music

BYU Music Professor Works with Alum to Give Centennial Middle School Band a Festival Experience

Centennial Middle School band director Peter Werner reached out to his former professor Don Peterson after the cancellation of the State Junior High Band Festival

After preparing throughout the last year, the band students of Centennial Middle School in Provo were finally at the State Junior High Band Festival. But at the close of the first day — the night before the band was scheduled to perform — the festival was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. “As the students came to get their instruments from their band lockers to take home to practice in preparation for the next day, I broke the bad news to them,” said band director Peter Werner, a School of Music alum and assistant director of the BYU Cougar Marching Band. “They were devastated, some even leaving in tears. They had worked extremely hard all year to perform at the festival, and now the opportunity was being taken from them.”

But Werner wasn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet. As most schools in the state — including Centennial — were still open and functioning relatively normally at this point in time, Werner decided that he would give the band a mock-festival experience on their home turf. He reached out to his former professor Don Peterson — who was himself waiting on word regarding BYU’s response to the pandemic and the immediate future of the School of Music — for help. “I was in multiple bands with Dr. Peterson while in school and have had continued contact with him; I knew that he would love to help if he was available,” said Werner. “Amazingly, he answered back quite quickly and agreed to come. I was so excited. Performing at the festival is a great honor, but more importantly a great venue for the students and myself to learn how to become better musicians. I knew that Dr. Peterson could help us do just that.” Werner’s students came dressed up and ready to play. They would record their performance and receive feedback from Peterson, who would serve as adjudicator. “I went in and listened to them rehearse a little while before they even knew I was there,” said Peterson, who serves as director of bands at BYU. “It was just so rewarding to see them so focused and working so hard. You could tell they were disappointed, but they played so well. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing students reach their potential in music. You can see it and feel it in their performance.” Read the full story at the School of Music website.