ROCK SPRINGS — As the band moves to the center of the gym, the goal is simple. They want to march in unison to the beat of the music and put on an unforgettable show to stand out above the competition. Any misstep or wrong note could make all the difference in the final rating the band receives. But, no pressure.
The 90-student Rock Springs High School marching band took on this challenge and came home with an excellent rating after attending the State Marching Band Festival in Casper on Saturday, October 15. During the competition, all bands are expected to march and play, however, there is a lot of latitude in how each band approaches their show, RSHS Band Director Brian Redmond said. Like other bands, RSHS tries to perform to a song the audience knows and will enjoy.
Even though the competition wasn’t until this fall, the band actually started preparing for state back in the spring. “I collaborate with our students to select the theme of the show. One of our drum majors, Hallie May, came up with the concept for this show ‘Girl Power,'” he said.
Once the theme has been picked, the music is selected and Redmond designs the marching routine, often referred to as a drill. The marching season then kicks off in the summer with the incoming freshman and leadership team practicing during the last week of July. In August, the rest of the band joins the practices. During the summer practices, the band worked on learning the music and the drill. Once school resumed, the band continued to work on their music during band practice and then would meet every Thursday evening to march.
“Initially, each practice is centered around learning how to put the music and the drill together,” Redmond explained. “Once the students learn the basics of the drill, we then spend time working to refine our technique and execution, either musically or in our marching.”
Judging at these kinds of competitions can be fairly picky, Redmond said. Two judges concentrate on the music, two look at the marching, one looks at the drum line and the other watches the color guard. All of the judges provide the bands with feedback on what they are doing well and where they need to improve. The groups are scored against a standard, meaning every group can earn the highest tier rating or none of them can. The bands can receive one of three ratings, superior is the highest, excellent is the middle, and good in the lowest rating.
Rock Springs earned an excellent rating narrowly missing the superior rating, he said. However, bands can receive other recognitions and this year was recognized for outstanding marching execution.
“I’m so proud of our students and our adult staff. Everyone worked very hard to help make this show a success. We couldn’t have made it without the entire group’s hard work and dedication,” Redmond said. “While we may have barely missed our goal of a top rating, I think that this is one of those situations where we will see our victories play out over the course of the school year and beyond. We have such a great group here, and I am so fortunate to work with them.”
While the band may not have received the highest rating that they wanted, they are still doing great things.
“I think this indicates that the group is performing at a very high level. More important to me however, is our individual student growth and behavior. Marching band can be a very stressful activity, with every student being asked to perform at their peak for the entire show with no breaks,” Redmond said. “Our students this year have done a great job pulling together and supporting each other through this process.”
With this competition out of the way, the band will focus on perfecting their music, however it won’t be long before they will have to start preparing for next year’s competition.