Band Retakes the Field at Bands of America Competition


Photo by Gloria Ogunlade

The band plays in the stands at a football game prior to their halftime show. (Gloria Ogunlade photo)

Ask any Duncanville band member what they do in their free time and you’re likely to get a similar response. Marching band. With after school practice, time during band class, even humming and tapping their fingers along to the rhythm of a show tune in class, members can be found dedicating their time to an upcoming competition.

Saturday they will take part in their first competition of the season, Bands of America, at Dragon Stadium in Southlake, Tx. It will be the first time in over 20 years that the group has entered this competition. They will compete with other top level bands, most of which faced them at the UIL State competition last year, but the rules, judging, and criteria will all be different. The band and high Hats have been working since summer to perfect their music and moves for the performance of this year’s three movement competition show, Apocalyptic.

“The band last competed in BOA 24 years ago with great success,” band director Mark Teal said. “We chose to return because we wanted consistent competition with those who we compete with at the State Marching Contest. The first time we competed against many of those bands was at state. We need a competition to gauge ourselves against our competitors more often.”

The competition will consist of both preliminary and finals rounds with the band having one of the earliest performance times. They will be setting up for the show  here at the school as early as 4 a.m.

While they have performed the first movement at several football games, this week will be the first time they introduce the second and third parts. Before the big competition, they will have two performances one at tonights  varsity football game and  the other Friday night for a community preview.

“The band and High Hats have been working extremely hard since Day zero. I say Day zero because the preparation for our marching show has been taking place prior to our first day of band camp. We’ve committed a lot of time and effort in directing every single detail of our show so that we can perform at the highest level we can at BOA,” senior Drum Major Sharif Long said.

A common controversy among students is if marching band is considered a sport. With how much effort the organization puts into it, you would think the answer would be a simple yes but that is not the case with everyone.

“Marching band is an extremely complex idea, because you are combining two of the biggest entertainments of the 21st century, sports and music,” senior Drum Major Jeremiah Dukes said. “From your hips down you are an athlete and from waist up you’re a musician. Marching band is the beauty of playing and moving.”

Although Bands of America will be a new experience for the students, those who have marched before can compare it to previous events as far as emotions will go.

“At competitions, at first I’m really scared, because I think I’m going to mess up. But as soon as I hit that first note in that first set everything is just exhilarating,” junior Brea Knight said. “I walk on the field, and I’m nervous and I’m scared but once I hit that note, it’s like my nerves go away and I am ready.”

The talk of BOA has been constant since the results of State finals last season. This year, the band has its own goals to meet and hopes to continue being the band where “Pride Makes a Difference.”

“Marching band is a love/hate relationship. We have been working hard and I expecting nothing less but the top for Duncanville, because that’s just the type of band Duncanville is, we should be able to go in and out of certain competitions and have no problem adjusting, utilizing,” junior Jason Cordova said. “It is different, it is new, and it has been a while but we have a great band this year, from drum majors, to leaders, to students, and we’re just very appreciative of that, and we’re very excited to see and show the world what we can do.”

There is always a sense of togetherness whenever any team unites to pursue one common goal and that feeling is definitely one familiar to the Duncanville Band.

“It’s great to associate with a special community of people, who value your commitment to excellence. No matter your role in band, it’s made to operate as a group and I’ve always enjoyed how important everyone is made to feel in this organization,” Long said. “As a team, we always leave our hearts on the field as we perform. It makes me anxious because it’s nerve-racking having someone judge your “heart” or your passion. The best feeling is leaving it all on the field!”

Older members of the band are typically accustomed to the emotions one goes through at a event and the ways to react properly to them, but it is a response that cannot be felt until you experience it for yourself.

“Competitions… are unexplainable, however I’ll do my best,” Dukes said. “When you walk on that field and see hundreds of people cheering for your school there is a rush of pride, excitement, conviction, and so much more. These emotions are so intoxicating that they force you to be the best you can be. I am nervously confident, this is a new experience for all of us.”

The Bands of America competition will not only included judges scoring from the press box, but also judges on the field with each band. Duncanville has stretched their capabilities in order to adjust to this unfamiliar approach.

“The judging sheets for UIL and BOA are different, Teal said. “The BOA sheets have captions devoted to individual music and marching as well as General Effect, which I call the “goosebump” factor. We have made an effort to make sure we give attention to the criteria on those sheets.”

With the nearing competition, there are a few questions left to be analyzed among the Band and High Hats. What are their expectations for this competition? How far to they plan to go and are they prepared to not advance to finals?

“Contrary to popular belief, I am not expecting to win BOA,”Long said. “My expectation is for the Duncanville Band and High Hats to perform at the highest level we possibly can and leave our hearts on the field. If we do our best, then I’ll be more than proud of what we’ve accomplished. BOA will be an amazing experience for us to be submerged in a competitive and high level atmosphere of excellence.”

It is apparent that with the incredible strive to put on a production that the band has shown, they are already considered winners amongst themselves. A key ideal of the organization is to show pride in everything they do.

“Our expectations are always the same. Present a professional, entertaining product that we can all be proud of. Everything after that is out of our hands,” Teal said. “We can never predict placements because what we do is art. Who is to say Picasso was better than Monet?  It is apples and oranges. We try not to put too much emphasis on scores. If we come off the field knowing we did everything in rehearsals and performances to the best of our abilities, placements do not matter. Our success is in the journey.”