Friday, January 15, 2016

TOP STORY >> Band to enter competitions

Leader staff writer

Cabot High School band director Joe Trusty told the school board on Monday about the transition the band is taking with competing in national marching competitions.

“In the early years of teaching, you found three songs you liked, you bought them, taught them to the kids and you figured out where to stand on the field and that was your halftime,” Trusty said.

He said some years the production was not as entertaining as others.

“Across the country in the past 25 years, marching bands have taken a progression towards the competitive end. In the last few years more schools in Arkansas started entering competitive bands,” Trusty said.

A few years ago the students starting asking Trusty why the marching band was not in competitions against other bands and just goes for ratings.

Trusty said the band went to events and came back with superior ratings, but students wanted to be in competitive meets and be ranked.

Three years ago, the Cabot High School band entered the competitive marching competitions.

“Competitive marching is geared towards telling a story or a concept to the audience. You have seven to nine minutes to do it. It is a major production and not just a show anymore,” Trusty said.

He said USA Bands and Bands of America are the primary competitive circuits.

Trusty compared the Bands of America competition to the Olympics. In the old-style band competition, there were three judges who looked at the entire production and said it was at a certain level and received a division rating.

He said with a Bands of America type judging there are seven judges. Each judge is in charge of one specific area of the event. The goal is to have the finest execution musically and visually. The feedback is more detailed and specific and used by the band to get better.

“You see how you stack up not just in Arkansas but around the country. Is our program as good as we think it is?” Trusty said.

“In the past two years we’ve taken the high school band and split it into two groups. We have a Friday night band, which is everyone (280 students) in the high school band is on the field for home football games. We have a subgroup, 180 in the competitive band,” Trusty said.

The competitive band practices after school, on Saturdays and during summer.

“The competition band is very demanding physically and time,” he said.

Friday night bands learn their moves in class and perform on Friday night home football games. Competitive band members spend five hours a week outside the regular school day.

Trusty said competitive band is expensive. There are travel costs, food and lodging, chartered buses if going out-of-state, entry fees and the expense of paying for the music copyrights and drills.

Currently, the district does not charge fees for students to be in the competitive marching band. No students would be turned away if they could not afford it, Trusty explained.

Trusty said most schools around the state charge students between $250 to $450 a year to be in the competitive band. Schools offer monthly payment plans, ways for students to work to earn money to pay for fees and also holds fundraisers.

Trusty said he expects interest in the competition marching band to grow. He expects 200 students in the fall.

Students will still be in the high school band, even if they do not want to be in the competition band. They would learn the routines and perform at Friday night football home games by going to class every day.

In other business, the school board recognized the two newest National Board Certified teachers: Southside Elementary counselor Janna Terrell and Westside Elementary first-grade teacher Stacy Cook.