Monday, October 10, 2011

I must be boring you...

...with all the marching band stuff, but that's mostly what life is about this time of year for those with children in a high school band.

We participated in the USSBA competition this past Saturday, which turned into somewhat of a disaster.

So it's October in Texas...well it's obviously October what does that mean? Not much really. The weather patterns are wonky everywhere and after the summer we had, well...I don't even know what's normal anymore. All I know is that rain is welcome, any amount, anytime.

Except Tuesday evenings, Thursday or Friday nights (whichever day we happen to playing), or Saturdays during the month of October.

Also the wind. Good gravy.

The marching band prop this year is really just a backdrop. The competition music is called "Phoenix Rising." The prop is seven 8' panels velcroed to seven frames with the music "logo" (a phoenix) and the title painted across them. The panels are made out of 4' x 8' lightweight insulation panels duct-taped together to create 8' x 8' panels.

On Thursday it was windy, but the band director insisted we proceed. Luckily the wind was blowing mainly north/south, which is the way the field is situated. Once we got on the field, we were good to go. It was the getting the prop put together (because the panels are not on the frames for transportation) and onto the field that was tough. Once we were lined up on the field and hiding behind/on the rolling platforms, everything was fine.

The competition on Saturday was a whole 'nother ball game. It was even windier and we didn't have enough people to assign two people per section. So we lashed to carts together. A good idea in theory. And it would have worked beautifully had there been NO WIND.

There was wind however. Great continuous gusts of it. It was nearly impossible to assemble the prop (THANK GOODNESS we arrived first and performed second which just meant we had time and space and no audience whilst wrestling the prop.). It was tough. The prop took some licks, but we finally managed it. It was difficult to get the props on the field--part of that was my fault--but once we got situated, it got worse. We ended up having to take two of the panels off their frames and the rest of us were fighting to keep ours in place long enough for the band to complete their performance.

We managed it. Just.

We didn't know if we were going to the finals, but we already knew the props wouldn't be regardless, so packed onto the truck they went.

We enjoyed a lovely afternoon of watching other bands, most of them much larger than we.

We took first place in our division and made it to the finals, though it wasn't much of a victory since our division consisted of two schools. But we took all the awards--music, color guard, etc. Whatever they gave out awards for, we earned them.

Finals were supposed to be a better test of our capabilities and talents--all the first place schools would be competing against each other. There were eight or nine schools that made it.

Fast forward to 6:30ishPM. The finals begin at 7 and, this time, we perform first. Weather had been brewing all day, but remained (safely) to the south and west of us.

At 6:45 I excused myself for a last trip to the restroom. No sooner do I return to the group when the wind changes and the temperature drops by a good 15/20 degrees. No kidding. Just like that. If it wasn't such bad timing, it would have been really cool. I'd never really experienced that type of change before.

Anywho, we were on the verge of darkness, and now the weather is heading our direction.

But the show must go on!

And on it went.

After we played and hauled butt back to our bus and equipment truck, which were parked at the very other end of the parking lot because we arrived first that morning, we loaded the instruments and dug out rain ponchos. And had a snack.

Except the weather was pretty much upon us and they moved the rest of the competition to the gym. Then one of the parking lot guys was telling us to get inside and fast. I had already started shooing the kids on the bus since the rain was starting to fall and the lightning was creeping closer.

The band director had gone back to the stadium to see what was going on or to get scores or something and had taken the two other official teachers with her--so now I'm in charge of 40-some-odd teens.

Now I've got to get everyone back off the buses and headed toward the gym. Oh, except wait--two of the kids had gone to use the restroom! So I had to wait until I saw them returning and redirect them toward the gym.

So we finally get into the gym and watch the remaining bands play. Several had dropped out--needing to get on the road because of the weather I imagine. Just a note--this competition is mostly basically a warm-up for UIL in two weeks. It gives freshmen a chance to perform at this stadium to get a feel for the size and the field and process. So if you drop out, there's no major impact. And of course with the weather, it's understandable.

Unfortunately, because the competition was interrupted by weather and only two or three bands performed outside and the rest (that stayed) played inside, it wasn't a fair contest. So.....

They broke it up and gave out two sets of awards. One for the bands who were able to play/march on the field and one for those who had to perform at a standstill in the gym.

So we were cheated out of an opportunity to compete against larger, better funded bands in other divisions because of weather. Yeah, we took first place again. But to me it is a disappointment in that we didn't get a true opportunity to shine and to prove ourselves.

But the kids were all kinds of AWESOME!! (most of them, anyway :)

I'll try to get some video.