FROM THE PODIUM, 9/20

Good morning band faMily. Finally, after two years of waiting, competition week has finally arrived. This is just the first week of a “season” of competitions. Results, trophies, and scores are not the end of all ends for us. It is the performance quality in reference to our efforts and abilities that is the “ultimate” trophy for us.

MSHS and many of it’s ensembles choose to be competitive for many reasons. The most important is for the motivation it provides our students. Much like an exam, they will work harder for these performances that any other. The rehearsals leading up to a competition or evaluation performance are always the best rehearsals all year. The students and staff get more from these rehearsals than any other, and in some cases are the most enjoyable of any season. Another reason for competition is the evaluation it provides from trained adjudicators and musicians. It is always good for the performers and the staff to hear from other professionals about your performance. Often times it’s pointing out the things we have discussed good and bad, and sometimes its pointing out something we never realized. Both are great for the growth of the program. Also, if you are goin to COMPETE, then being competitive is also worth while. As long as it doesn’t consume us and get caught up in beating this group or that group. Compete against the best version of yourself. Improve through competition.

This week, we compete in Russellville, Alabama with 14 other “local” marching bands and maybe some not so local.

Next week, we travel to Franklin, TN to compete in the SONIC BOOM marching band contest at Flanklin HS.

*ANOTHER WORD ABOUT COMPETITIONS—There are many difference types of marching band contests. As a matter of fact, no two contests are the same. The contest coming up in Russellville is an old school type judging system. Three band judges will judge how the band plays, how they march, and how much general effect they generate. One judge sampling all three things. Also, there will be percussion judge, guard judge, majorette judge, and a drum major judge. Each category will receive scores and awards and the overall band score at the end of the day is all the captions basically averaged so to speak. We call these contests Alabama old school contests. TVIMC is an Alabama old school contest.

THEN we have contests like ALABAMA State Championships. These contests is considered CAPTION judging. Meaning, for MUSIC there is one judge, for VISUAL(marching) there is a judge, for General EFFECT there is a judge, and so on. In other words, one judge judging only a single caption. These contests are much more competitive, and usually generate lower scores than other types simply because the judges are sampling and looking at one thing the entire time. The contest in Franklin, TN is this type of contest.

We will see some fantastic bands in Franklin next week. Many of them compete at Bands of America and the TN state marching band championships. They take marching band very serious and will have really well designed competitive show designs along the line of what we do, and even better. Part of the growth of any program is to look outside your local area and compare and contrast our own band. We have our own unique style of program that we all love and not looking to change anything about that, but we can learn alot from programs that do what we do better than us.

FRIDAY NIGHT- I want to invite everyone to our stadium Friday night at 7:30 to enjoy our final run of “THROUGH IT ALL” before our first contest. We will be frantically putting the closer on the field this week even with poor weather the next couple days. Remember when you get there we may still be rehearsing, be aware of that and the crowd noise. I simply ask you be respectful of our rehearsal time if that is the case. You may invite and bring anyone you would like to see the show.

PLEASE ATTEND THE CONTEST!!!!!! Parents, grandparents, friends and anyone else please attend the contest. It is what these competitive kids live for. They deserve to have a crowd cheering for them. It’s the only local contest as the others are hours away not 20 minutes. I am still waiting on the official schedule and information about the contest. I will make a special post about that when it comes my way.

THROUGH IT ALL show concept revisited: Parents, another explanation of our show and what it is so you can understand and enjoy better.

THROUGH IT ALL, in three movements. 1. The Quest 2. The Temple 3. Stronger Together

Taking the idea of THROUGH IT ALL based on our own lives over the past two years. We have literally been THROUGH IT ALL and enjoying again this thing called marching band. The music of Julie Giroux called K2, based on the 2nd highest mountain peak in the world. The music transports you to that region of the world and we are very much on a trek. The props are “gateways” you might find in that part of the world. Some claim that walking through a gateway relieves stress and bring you closer to the Gods. We could all use a little stress relief. During our ballad, The Temple, we literally want to make you feel as though you walked into a temple full of monks mediating and praying for a better world. And the closer “STRONGER TOGETHER” is about our own band programs path to where we are now. Students helping each other through hard times and being there for each other. We are indeed STRONGER TOGETHER. We spent so much time separated that it’s time to be together again. Our band song “You will never walk alone” finds it’s way briefly into the closer. We are even going to add a special effect with our props in the weeks ahead. Keep and eye out for that. We aren’t really telling a story literally…..but actually we are. Everything in this show has a meaning and a purpose from the flag design, to the worrier auxiliary uniform, for the prop design and even drill pictures and movements. Follow it every week and watch for the additions added to each performance.

A word of encouragement to everyone: In the 24 years of teaching public education (and all the other years I have spent in leadership positions in other parts of my life) one thing has always proven itself time and time again. There are some great times ahead and there are also some not so great times ahead. There are so many variables we have to navigate just to get through a season, a month, a week, and often times just to get through a work day. We are put into positions where we must balance and navigate through situations that are outside of our control. The key word is to “navigate”. We often stress about things outside of our control which is wasted energy. I now look at every situation and ask “can I control this variable”? Covid times have taught me to be very understanding when it comes to so many situations I couldn’t two years ago. I think we all fall into that category to some extent.

Last week I believe was a defining moment for our band program. We had some great moments, and we had a few low moments. But during both types of moments we were able to succeed and actually improve. Last Tuesday we had some moments that fit into the category of “yeah, that was bad……real bad”. And on the SAME day we accomplished more in one day than any other MSHS band in history learning 25 sets in a day. So what does all of that mean?

It means this. The PROCESS is more important than anything. In this program, we have assembled a great staff. Sometimes we just need to be like Forest Gump and follow directions and don’t ask questions. Trust your leadership and just follow their lead. The world tells you something different. Be afraid of your leadership, question everything, and trust nobody. Well what a horrible life that is. Trust nobody? That is my definition of misery. I would rather trust people and have it broken than to be bitter through life. Nobody is perfect and not trusting someone it the same as expecting people to be perfect even when you know you cannot. Obviously people break trust and show they cannot be trusted…….but not this band staff. I am surrounded by staff and parents that are of the best quality you could ask of people. A perfect example…… At the Athens game we arrived to their concessions and they were not completely prepared and we were thrown a curve ball just 1 hour before gametime. If you were around me you saw that look in my eyes. I made a few decisions and we made it work. The band ended up purchasing the entire band their meal due to a “no cash” policy they had and the fact it was going to take them an hour to feed our kids. In the big scheme of things, no big deal. We all just dealt with it and made it happen. In that moment of my disgust….a moment of good rose to light. So many kids passed me in line and personally thanked me and the band for paying for their food. Now……I am around alot of kids and most of them would not go out of their way to be thankful for a $5 meal…..but our band kids were. It just goes to show how great our kids are and how great their parents are as well. That is learned at home.

Band is good in all seasons. The beginning, the middle, and the end. Even when band isn’t going great band is still good. And it’s good because of the people involved in it. You, me, and everyone around us benefit from this thing we call band. We are indeed a faMily and we should never take it for granted. There are some great times ahead….and there are some not so great times ahead. But in the end………it’s all worth it.

Let’s have a great week of band. GO TROJANS!!!!!

Keep an eye out for our official schedule of events this week. Remember no Tuesday night rehearsal and an added Thursday night 5:30-8:00 and Friday night 5:30-8:00.

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The opinions expressed on this website are not necessarily those of the faculty, administration, or student body of Muscle Shoals High School.