Column: It’s competition from a different angle

Column: Its competition from a different angle

Allie Peregory stands at attention with her fellow drum majors as they accept their awards last weekend at the DeSoto Marching Contest. (Chrystal Rhone photo)
Hours upon hours of hard work and dedication reaped recognition on Saturday night for the Duncanville High School Marching Band. For the past two years we have built up to this year being the epic finale of our marching shows’ angel trilogy. After competing in the DeSoto Marching Contest we walked away with numerous caption awards and were named Grand Champions and given 350 medals for each member. This year was different for me. I have marched in the DeSoto contest before, but never had I stood on a podium in contest, nor had I ever accepted an award on behalf of the entire band. Being a drum major does turn out to have some perks.

I began my work before school ended my junior year as I practiced in front of a mirror for weeks, analyzing everything my hands were doing, my arms, my shoulders. I was determined to have the most prepared audition in the room and I desperately wanted to hear my name announced as a drum major on May 18 at the band banquet. After I was named drum major I knew I was accepting not just a title, but a huge amount of responsibility. Of course I was now responsible for keeping tempo and holding the band together on the field, but an even bigger responsibility loomed over my head as I realized it is now my job to help lead the band to another year of competition in the 5A Texas State Marching Contest.

Duncanville is the only band in Texas to advance to the state contest every year since 1988, and we certainly do not take this for granted, but I still have not yet quite snapped to reality and grasped the whole concept that I am a drum major for such a prestigious program. Every year is a new band, and our directors remind us constantly that all we can hope to be is the best Duncanville band possible and in the end we will be so satisfied with our final product that results and opinions from 5 judges won’t matter. I have experienced this before in the Wind Ensemble’s last run competing for an honor band title, but as a drum major Duncanville’s tradition of excellence can be intimidating.

Thankfully I am a part of an outstanding drum major team. Though I will admit we have a tendency to rub each other the wrong way occasionally and we may critique each other a little too often, but we sat around in a circle at drum major camp this summer and we decided that we wanted to be like the 2009-2010 team. They were the first team from Duncanville to win the Most Oustanding Drum Major Team caption, and we were determined to follow suit. We wanted to be great leaders and role models in our band, and of course we wanted to stand out among other teams by having five people standing in front of a band looking exactly the same and staying in perfect sync with each other.

This past weekend at the DeSoto contest this goal was realized when we accepted the Most Outstanding Drum Major Team caption, and in all honesty I think we were more excited about the drum major award than being named Grand Champions. This award gave us some needed reassurance that everything we have done and all of the hours we have committed to our program is all paying off. We have a long road ahead of cleaning drill and making musical improvements, but I am incredibly optimistic about this year’s band. There is something different about everyone’s attitude this year.

In our 2010 state run we had drive and we were motivated, but there’s a certain energy to this year’s band. We are in this for the gold. I walk out of practice every night mentally exhausted from maintaining such intense focus, but this program and its’ tradition is worth the stress, lack of sleep and long hours of rehearsal. We all depend upon each other and walking onto the field I feel a great sense of community. Our directors tell us that regardless of whether or not we pursue a musical career after high school, the band program will teach us how to work with people of different backgrounds and beliefs and strive to a common goal. This year as a drum major I have seen this so clearly, especially working with such an exceptional band. The evolution from the first day of summer band to performing in competition blows my mind. There really ain’t no band like a Dville band.