GMS students perform at Disney

Published 4:20 pm Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Greenville Middle School students were among the legions of visitors to the Walt Disney World Resort last week during the spring break rush, but their trip wasn’t all fun and games.

Greenville Middle School band director Chris Pryor took 29 up-and-coming musicians to Epcot Theme Park to perform onstage at Melody Gardens in front of an audience of thousands.

The band played seven band literature-style concert pieces, including upbeat, patriotic music as well as rhythmic, fast sounds that would appeal to a wide range of listeners.

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Because of the standards upheld by the Disney Performing Arts organization, Pryor said that it was an honor just to be accepted.

“We sent a tape off earlier last year and got accepted to perform at Epcot at Walt Disney World, and through our performance and tape, we did an application and they accepted it and we were set to perform,” Pryor said.

“We also did a workshop down there, in which a lot of kids were able to do studio recordings and actually record music and put it to animation.”

The four-day trip marked the first Greenville Middle School performance at Disney World and, thanks to five fundraisers held throughout last year in addition to out-of-pocket expenses, all meals and events were paid for.

The students enjoyed a number of attractions, including Blizzard Beach, the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure and more.

But the most arduous task ahead of the Greenville Middle School band was not in funding the trip, but in preparing for the performance of a lifetime.

The preparation was a combination of practice in unison at school as well as individually at home.

“I passed out the music around three or four months in advance, and I made recordings of the music to let them practice at home with them and then we put it together and did five or six rehearsals after school that were about two and a half to three hours each to prepare for this,” Pryor said.

But the true value of the experience came from the opportunity to leave the comforts of the Camellia City.

“For students wanting to pursue a music career, I think it was extremely valuable because they got to see stuff outside of Greenville and participate in things that just aren’t local,” Pryor said.

“You don’t really get to see much stuff around here as far as studio recordings and meeting professional musicians and playing in front of thousands upon millions of people. But as far as for the non-musical people, it still was valuable in the sense that they got to see what’s out of Greenville and what’s out of the state.  A lot of kids around here have never ventured past Montgomery, and some of them not even outside of Greenville.  You’ve got to get students out and experience the world rather than just their little hometown.”