Three Wise County bands will compete in UIL Regional Marching Contest today, with a trip to area contest on the line.
Boyd will march at 10:15 a.m. at the Collins Athletic Complex in Denton. At 10:45, the Alvord band is due to perform, and at 11:45 Paradise will take the field.
Paradise is the last of nine bands to perform in the morning. Judges will announce the ratings shortly after they finish, and bands earning a 1 will advance to area contest, to be held at the same stadium the following Saturday, Oct. 26.
Bands are judged on tone, musicianship and marching execution, as well as how they integrate those components into a visual and musical presentation. Their show must be between five and eight minutes.
BOYD TO SHOW ‘PICTURES’
The Yellowjacket Marching Band show this year is themed around Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” – a 19th-century Russian composer’s imaginary tour of an art exhibit.
Josh McDaniel is in his first year at the helm of the Boyd band, with assistance from Billy Hazard and Chris Barron.
With 33 kids marching, Boyd is one of the smaller 2A groups.
“They’ve worked really, really hard,” McDaniel said. “We started the year with a lot of excitement, and we still have a lot of excitement. We have good student leaders who are juniors and seniors, and they’ve put a lot of effort into it. They’ve done extremely well so far.”
McDaniel said the band is heavy on clarinets this year and light on brass, especially low brass. That instrumentation influences the choice of music.
“We could probably stand a few more trumpets, but overall, it’s pretty balanced for the size band we have,” he said.
The show opens with a trumpet solo by an eighth grader – one of six in the high school band.
“It’s a very nice, clean trumpet solo,” he said. “We’ve got six eighth graders marching with us, who are really good players. We’ve got a really good crop of eighth graders who will be coming up next year.”
McDaniel said the show has fewer “sets” than many groups, but the songs are short and the visual effects – including four colorguard performers – keep things moving.
“Our kids are getting better every week, and we get great community support,” McDaniel said.
ALVORD ALSO HAS RUSSIAN THEME
The Alvord Bulldog Band competed at the varsity level for the first time last year and earned a 1 – a superior rating – in a non-state year. Third-year director Barry Janicula is looking for a repeat of that rating and a trip to the Area round this year.
The show is also designed around Russian music – a theme that spills over to the flags and the guard costumes. Pieces include the “Russian Sailors Dance,” a tune called “Minka, Minka” and “March Slav.”
Alvord marches 32 kids – also one of the smaller 2A programs. With a strong eighth-grade program, Janicula said he has debated whether to march the younger kids to boost the size of the band. So far, he’s sticking with the high schoolers.
At the younger grades, Janicula said he focuses on rhythm, letting them learn how to play their instrument – and encourages them to stick with band once they enter high school.
“My approach is that I would rather have a clean, good-sounding small band than a big sloppy band,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of numbers, but every kid knows what they’re doing and can play their instrument, which is my goal.”
Right now the band is heavy on percussion, but lacking in brass – particularly low brass.
“We have a great flute sound but only a couple of clarinets,” Janicula said. “Next year we’ll probably have about seven or eight clarinets. They come in waves, so what’s a problem this year will be a strength next year.”
They currently have six students in the colorguard, which started last year. Janicula has no assistant band director, but he does hire contracted people who come in and work with percussion and the colorguard.
“Hopefully one of these days I’ll get a full-time assistant,” he said. “I’m very fortunate to have these contracted services coming in.
“We’ve seen improvement,” he said. “We’re on the right track.”
Paradise band director Bill Altz could not be reached for comment.