Tunstall Combined Band achieves high rank


On March 10, 2023, the Tunstall Combined Band traveled to George Washington High School to perform in an event known as District Assessment. District Assessment is an annual event that lets students from both middle and high schools in the VCDA District VI perform music. 

The Tunstall Combined Band consists of 36 people, each with different talents and personalities. From flutes to concert tubas, there are a wide variety of musicians in the band. The pieces that the bands perform are given a ‘grade’. The grades determine how difficult the piece is, one being the easiest, and six being the most difficult. The Tunstall Combined Band performed three different pieces in the morning, those pieces were as followed:

  • ‘March On!’ by Charles Booker (Grade 2)
  • ‘Sparks’ by Brian Balmages (Grade 2.5)
  • ‘Where the Sun Breaks Through the Mist’ by Michael Sweeney (Grade 2)


Multiple schools attend this event, such as Patrick Henry High School, Rustburg High School, Chatham High School, and more. Everybody who participates received four scores, three from the music judges and one from the sight-reading judge. They get scored on a scale of 1-5, one being the best, and five being the worst. This year, the Tunstall Combined Band received an overall score of two. 

After practicing for weeks on end since January, the band had worked hard to receive their favorable score. With a total of six hours per week, the band’s astounding score has shown the work they put in to earn it.

Ms. Knapp, the director of the band, has been working with young musicians for over 11 years and has been proud to see them improve over the years. “I was extremely proud of the assessment performance. The band showed growth from beginning to end,” states Knapp. After performing for the judges, Knapp felt overjoyed about the experience and was delighted by the band for not just excelling musically, but also growing as musicians this year.

One of the members in the band is freshman Amaris Duenas-Salas, who is a percussionist in the band. Duenas-Salas’ remarks that she found being in the band enjoyable because of “the fact I was able to make friends and that I could learn fast”. Since this year has brought her new opportunities and friends, she is happy to say she will be returning for the next band season.

After the successful score, they got dressed, loaded the bus, and ventured off to the Danville Mall to get a victory lunch. Being able to perform in this annual event is a great opportunity for any band, and the Tunstall Combined Band is ready to come back next year and show the judges what they can do!