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Marching Wolverines heading to state semi-finals
10/26/2012 By: Times staff
Marching Wolverines heading to state semi-finals
Times staff report
The Bayfield Marching Wolverines conclude their competition season this weekend as they travel to Pueblo for the Colorado Bandmasters Association State Semi-Finals. The contest will be held Monday, on the CSU-Pueblo campus. The Wolverines are currently ranked fourth among the 15 class 2A marching bands in Colorado.
The Wolverines have been working on their show since July, memorizing music and choreography at band camp. “Our show takes classical piano music and punches it up a few notches for the audience,” says director Derek C. Smith. Four pieces, including Ludwig and Wolfgang (Fur Elise by Beethoven), Knuckle Concerto (Grieg’s Hall of the Mountain King), Clair du Lune (Debussy), and Chopstix take well known piano works from famous composers and move them to the competition field. Sixty-two students in the band, including 21 woodwinds, 19 brass, 13 percussion, 7 colorguard, and 2 drum majors, participate in early morning rehearsals daily before school, as well as one or two evening rehearsals per week.
The band has had their most successful season yet, scoring record high marks in each competition this year. On Oct. 18, they competed at the western regional in Grand Junction, scoring 53.50, just .35 points behind rival Delta at 53.85, and five points behind 2011 2A champion D’Evelyn (58.95) who marches into the semi-finals firmly in control of first place. Scoring in marching band competitions involves a formula of numbers from seven judges, each of whom focuses on a specific part of execution, style, precision, and musical elements. Four judges give music scores in individual and group categories, and general effect, or “GE.” Three additional judges give scores based on visual categories.
“The GE judges’ scores have the most weight, because they look at the whole package- the ‘wow’ factor for music and visual. If you do well in GE, you probably will get a good score overall,” Smith said. “Last year at state prelims and finals, we scored 52.85. This year, we left Grand Junction knowing we hadn’t marched as well as we had at the Homecoming game, yet we scored higher than ever. I think that’s a good sign.”
“The absolute perfect show would be 100, but don’t think of it as a percentage. In my entire career I have only ever seen the best bands get in the high 80s. Size and power of a band matters, and for a medium sized 2A band to be in the mid 50’s at qualifiers is pretty remarkable. Air Academy (out of Colorado Springs) will be shooting for 85 or so. Cortez is in the mid 60’s to 70’s.” He adds, “I feel confident about state, because now our members know what to expect in competition.”
How is it that a band could go into the playoff season without knowing what to expect? Smith says that Marching Band is different than other sports in which students compete. “Our competitive season is really short compared to the preparation we must do. Unlike a sports team, who go head to head against opponents early in a season, few bands are 100% prepared on the field until late September. We reveal our show a little at a time at each football game in preparation for contests.” The first contest was in Grand Junction as the State Qualifying event. “Grand Junction is all the marbles; either you have more to your season or you go home. One show, one score.”
Although Grand Junction as the qualifying contest matters most, the Wolverines also participated in a “regular season” performance at the ZIA Marching Fiesta, hosted by the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. “ZIA is basically the state championships for New Mexico bands, but you don’t need to qualify; you just sign up to march.” Classifications are different in New Mexico, were BHS would be considered a Single-A school. “We swept the 1A class: High Score Music, High Score Visual, High Score General Effect, but we were the only band in that group.” In other words, BHS was the smallest school represented at the contest. Smith brags, “Small as we are, we beat 9 schools from 2A and 3A classifications.” The Wolverines pulled an unprecedented score of 59.3. “I was incredibly pleased with that mark, and the kids were blown away too. We had set a goal of knocking off those 2A bands, but to take down some 3A’s felt really good. We have our eyes set for 60 at state.”
Smith attributes the band’s success to the student leadership team, including Drum Majors Katherine Svanes, a senior, and junior Sonja Fleming, as well as Band President Dalton Dorrell and other section leaders.
“The two drum majors have done more to give the band discipline and direction than I could have imagined, while Dalton leads by musical example.” The drum majors run rehearsals and enforce discipline within the group, but despite their heavy responsibilities, they are well liked and respected among the band members. “You can have a great band, but with weak leaders it can be a very hard season. We have the best kids in the school, on the podium and on the field.”
The Marching Wolverines are sponsored by Amerigas, the Harris Fund, Ritter Construction, BP Fabric of America Fund, and the Bayfield Association for the Advancement of Music. “Those businesses and donors make it possible for us to compete. As many as 80 kids have been in this band, yet we rely almost entirely on private donations and fundraising.” The band is starting a major fundraising drive to purchase new uniforms. “For the last three years in these interviews, I have mentioned that the used uniforms we bought in 2006 are now older than the students wearing them. A new set for a band of 80 (BHS has been as high as 82) will cost $25,000.” Smith recognizes that the expense can be daunting for a district beset by serious budget reductions. “It’s not easy, but the students really need this. In my tenure here, I have seen many new athletic uniforms, but none for our musicians. I would like to change that this year, along with a performance venue.”
The Marching Wolverines scheduled State competition time is 11:45 a.m. Monday. For finals, their evening performance time will be chosen by placement score and posted online. Information about the marching season, with complete schedules, recaps and scores, can be found at www.cbamarching.com.