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Marching band

Topics/tags: Miscellaneous, short

Yesterday was the last performance of the 2018 GHS marching band show, Peace, Love, and Rock and Roll, which I wish they had named Sax, Drums, and Rock and Roll. It was also the last time Michelle and I will attend a marching band performance as parents of a band member [1]. Ten years have gone by comparatively quickly. And it’s been interesting to see how our perspectives and the bands have changed over the years.

While I enjoy watching the GHS band play, I particularly enjoy marching band competitions, where I can see and hear other bands. While I appreciate the performances, I also like seeing what other schools do and how they approach the concept. While I don’t think I’ve ever seen keyboards, electric guitar, or electric bass at a GHS show, they seem to be a fairly common approach. Some schools use big, portable, screens at the back of the field which may provide a starting location for band members, a place for the color guard to store flags or to change, or a backdrop.

Some schools go over the top in their accessories. For one band’s performance of Singing in the Rain, they’d purchased [2] park benches and street lamps that they carried and wheeled out onto the field. Some use smoke generators as part of their performance. I care more about the music, the synchronization of the performers, and the storytelling of the color guard.

A few things stand out from this year’s marching band season [3]. I saw one of my first performances with a synthesizer with some prerecorded sounds. Michelle and I noted many more male performers in the color guards. And, for the first time ever, I saw a theremin used in a marching band performance [4,5]. I also hope that the GHS band’s Latin-tinged [6] White Rabbit sticks with me [7].

As much as I enjoy marching band, I’m not sure if I’ll end up going to competitions in the future. It’s always a bit of a drive (a little over an hour for the first competition, about fifty minutes for the second). Without a child in band, I may not hear them announced. And, well, my time is always limited. In addition, sitting out in the cold in a damp football stadium is not particularly pleasant.

In any case, it’s been a fun ten years.

[1] We will attend other band performances throughout the year including, we hope, their spring 2019 Disney show.

[2] Or rented.

[3] Season is an overstatement. There were only two competitions.

[4] The theremin appeared in an abbreviated version of The Witch and the Saint. My quick Web search did not suggest whether or not it’s a standard instrument for that piece. I couldn’t find another performance that included one. I did, however, find a fairly theatrical performance that includes a giant cauldron and a performer’s eye view.

[5] That may also have been my first experience seeing the theremin used in any live performance.

[6] Is that the right term? It will have to suffice.

[7] You can hear a less-polished version of White Rabbit starting at about 4:20 in the video from their 21 September 2018 performance. I should warn you that it has a relatively long percussion solo.

Version 1.0 of 2018-10-14.