MAHOMET — Music just happens to run in Ella Herriott's family. That tradition was one her grandmother, Barbara Herriott of Seymour, was elated to see on display during the Feb. 28 seventh- and eighth-graders' band and chorus concert.
"We've got a lot of music in our family," Barbara Herriott said.
"Well, we aren't, but they are," joked Mahomet's John Seversen, Ella Herriott's grandfather. "My daughter married into a very musical family. Everyone plays a lot of music and instruments and not just one — that's what's very cool."
"I think this family could be a band," he said. "Literally the Herriott family could. One plays piano, one plays guitar, saxophone — just everybody."
But as for granddaughter Ella Herriott? She sticks to percussion.
"She plays any of the drums and the bells and the xylophone," Barbara Herriott said.
Ella Herriott also takes every opportunity to do anything and everything musical.
"She loves to sing, and whenever she's in the car, the radio goes on," Barbara Herriott joked.
"She's dancing and singing," Seversen added, "and it's all because of music."
Fighting off those concert jitters was a feat the eighth-grader's grandparents were particularly delighted to see.
"We're very proud of her," Seversen said. "We've been watching her grow. That community support ... I think the Mahomet people support the kids and that helps the kids I think 100 percent."
But the eighth-grader wasn't the only one impressing the crowd.
Peighton Hunt took her talents to the next level. The eighth-grade percussionist kept the band in rhythm — literally. Hunt got Mahomet-Seymour Junior High's band director Philip Meyer out of a real pinch when he learned a student would be out of town for the concert.
"She's only seen this music for about half the time the other students have," Meyer said. "She came to me at the end of last year expressing an interest in joining band, and we found a place for her and she's been really successful right from the start."
Mahomet-Seymour Junior High School chorus director Brian Lonergan said the seventh-grade soloists, including Janae Hall, Ellie Henrichs and Noelle Ramaly, also went the extra mile in their performance of "The Ash Grove."
"They came in on their own lunch time to sing it," Lonergan said. "They did some extra work outside of class preparing it."
After fighting off some nerves, those extra efforts certainly paid out dividends.
"As a seventh-grader, it feels like, 'Oh my gosh! If I mess this up, this is it. I'm done for,' " Lonergan said. "But they really did a good job and I'm proud of them."
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from those hours and hours of rehearsal time leading up to the evening's performance is simply a greater sense of "individual responsibility."
"When students are young, they play pieces where everybody is playing the same thing," Meyer said. "But when they start seventh grade, the have to learn their own part, and it might be different than even the person sitting next to them. It's a lot of responsibility put on the students."
But that's only part of the equation. In the grander scheme of things, Lonergan can't help but hope the students carry the experience with them years down the road.
"It's good for their soul," he said. "When it's all said and done, our goal is that this program has provided them with something that maybe teaches them about themselves or gives them a space to be themselves and find friends that create lasting friendships that go beyond just the music — that's ultimately the goal."