Just days after honoring Creston Middle School Band Director Ryan Linke with the Young Band Director Award, the Iowa Bandmasters Association (IBA) have given the middle school another cause for celebration.

Creston’s sixth grade band has been chosen to perform at the IBA Conference. Every year, a variety of bands from around the state are invited to perform, though only one elementary band is chosen. Band Director Audrey Linke compared being chosen to winning a state championship in sports.

“We are the eighth concert band in Southwest Iowa that has ever been chosen, and it’s the first time for a Creston band to be picked,” Audrey said. “It’s basically the highest state level honor a band of any grade can receive.”

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Bands are chosen based on audition tapes submitted to a panel of judges. The judges do choose without knowing who each band is.

The Linkes knew they had something special with the now sixth-grade class a year ago, when they first mentioned possibly submitting a tape. In order to motivate the students, an offer of dyeing Ryan’s beard was given as a prize if the students were chosen. Three days ago, this is how the students were told they were chosen.

“When we were trying to figure out how we were going to tell them, we were like, maybe we can just lead in with that,” Audrey said. “We were like, ‘remember when we told you that Mr. Linke would do this? We’re going to have to pick out a color for Mr. Linke to dye his beard.’ They all went crazy, they were all cheering and were super, super excited.”

The students quickly decided on a color for Ryan’s beard: bright pink. However, he won’t be sporting this new ‘do until after the conference.

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The IBA Conference takes place May 9-11. While Creston’s band doesn’t know what time or date they will perform, they’re excited to prepare.

“We have to perform between eight to 10 songs, so we have to put on a 45 minute concert,” Audrey said. “We’re planning to play everything from our winter concert, our spring concert, and then we’ll add in a couple others as well, just so we can reach that time limit.”

Audrey and Ryan both professed their pride in their band students.

“This is one of those things that they have to put all the work in for it and they did. Making the recordings is really a challenging process because you’re trying to get 34 people to all be perfect all at the same time,” Audrey said. “They’ve just really blown us away, and Ryan and I could not be more proud of them.”

Ryan also highlighted the work of his wife.

“I don’t want to sound braggy, and obviously she’s my wife, but she is such a great teacher. This is like a career defining moment,” Ryan said. “A lot of directors teach their whole careers and aren’t expected to play at this thing, so I would be remiss if I didn’t talk her up a little bit more. It’s a real big deal.”


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