Monday, October 3, 2011

BOA on Saturday! (READ THIS PLEASE C.G.)

For those of you that are not into the world of band...let me tell you about it.  Last Saturday...(all day & night)  an event was held here in the  DFW metroplex called BOA. BOA means "Bands of America".  Apparently, it is a prestigous contest which is held statewide and ends nationally.  This is a yearly event and most of the shows are quite entertaining and beautiful to watch.  Our little 4A high school competed this weekend.  We were the smallest to perform!  That makes me laugh since we are marching close to 150 kids.  It takes 6 extra large school buses and 1 1/2 Semi-Tractor-Trailers to move us around.   

This years show is called "The Midas Touch".  It is the most incredible performance to date that I have seen Mr. Miller put together.  Basically, King Midas runs around the field as the band plays.  He is angry and vengeful.  He turns the complete band to gold.  The kids strip off their navy jumpsuits and jackets behind large screens and are magically turning gold as they are marching.  The colorguard girls are transformed to gold as well.

Speaking of precious metals.............Look what our crew brought home!   Yep, all their hard work paid off!!!

I am proud to say my children are all a part of this program.  Thank you too all the directors, teachers, staff and students who made it possible.

My baby, M.G. is in the front row here.  She is the pretty one in gold.

This is the full retreat which is at the end of a BOA finals.   We are on the far right.  My baby is in gold............  :)

The next part of this blog post is a copy of an email sent to the parents this morning from our director.. It explains the philosophy of the program and what is taught.    I think they are doing a fabulous job of teaching these kids about life, sportsmanship, respect, goals and hard work.  Kudos to the staff at WHS!!!

Dear WHS Band Parents,
As we settle into the competitive season, I feel it's important to address our philosophy on competition, show design, and what makes the Wakeland Band a special place. Many of you have emailed me some great questions. This is a bit of a catch-all, as well as an introduction to the new parents/students...
It's incredibly important for our kids to be honored in every way possible. In a society that's constantly rating/ranking our kids and their abilities, we feel it is vitally important for them to understand that this ranking/rating process is not a static one. Each week during October, our students are being assessed by a panel of adjudicators who take a very subjective art form and assign it a rank among other schools' artistic visions of a marching show. At Wakeland, we make it our goal not to discuss "beating" other schools, but about performing better than our last show. If you have a chance to watch our post-show talks, you'll often see me ask the student-performers to hold up their hand/hat if this was their best show of the year. I've told them that, in a "perfect season", every performer should raise their hat every week. Of course, that is unattainable. This is how we learn to do better...and I feel that it applies to real life as well. When they're in the business world, or law, or medicine, and are asked to file a report, defend a client, or perform a procedure, they should set their goal on doing it as good/better than the last time they did it. I'm sure that those of you in management know that employees like this are a rare find in today's world of "one-and-done".
I've told the students to wear their medals to school tomorrow, as I think it's a nice gesture to show the rest of the Wakeland community what we're doing while not rehearsing, going to class, studying, or supporting our football team. But at 4:15pm tomorrow, the medals will go away, and we will begin again with another set of goals for the Birdville Contest this weekend. The staff works carefully to set achievable goals, and we constantaly remind our students how close/far they are from attaining each goal for the week.
When it comes to design, as you look at other shows, you notice that what we do is quite different from many other bands. We have always believed that a quality show should tell a story. I suppose it's like history. We could learn just facts, figures, numbers, and dates OR we can learn the story BEHIND the story. Since 2006, our goal has been to tell a compelling story - from the process of becoming a butterfly, to a game of chess, to a day in the life of a marching band performer, these are our stories and this is our history. So, when you're at a contest and people say, "oh, that's Wakeland", please know that what it means to them is that we are different. There are a few others who share our approach, and many of them are the very best of the best, but as the season progresses, you'll notice the chasm between those who communicate and those who play for points. Given a choice, I would always rather be the most memorable show. I would rather our students have the opportunity to make people think, to make them smile, and to make them wonder. Artistically, these are values that we feel define our program. If we can make our judges think, smile, and wonder - well, the points will come along quickly.
Many of you asked me to share my thoughts on Saturday after viewing the final recap. I spend lots of time staring at recaps, so here's my opinion so far. On Saturday, we performed really well in the Effect captions. These are the hardest captions to do well in. They have to do with the design of the show - how all the elements work together - and how the kids perform "emotionally". The 3 effect judges had us in 4th, 4th, and 9th places. That's a great start. We also did fairly well in the Music Performance and Visual Performance captions that are judged from the press box (13th in Music and 9th in Visual). At this point, if you see it like I do, you're wondering how we're not in 7th or 8th place. The reason we weren't ranked higher has to do with the final two judges. These judges are on the field, and they look at our individual students' marching/playing abilities. We ranked 29th and 31st in these areas of 33 bands. We won't have any more on-field judges this year, but it's certainly a sign of what areas need work - individual performers. That's why our rehearsals are always performer-focused - it's important that we raise the level of the individual performer so that it matches what you're seeing/hearing upstairs.
Early on in the season, I would always rather judges have us ranked higher in the Effect and Ensemble (upstairs) captions. The downstairs captions will come with time and training. Adding more effect is a HARD thing to do; thankfully, we are clear there. Cleaning drill and music is what we were born to do in high school marching band; this will be our task over the final 25 rehearsals of the season.
So, I hope I've not rambled on too much, and I hope my explanation makes some sense. Of all the UIL 4A groups we saw, we're on top by a healthy margin, but trust me that we have "awakened sleeping dragons" in some of these cases. We need to make sure we're working hard to stay on top for the next 5 weeks.
Thanks again for all you do.

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