Marching Band places second at season-end competition

Risa Mori, In-Depth Editor

As students stood still in their positions at the Bands of America (BOA) regional competition awaiting the drum major’s cue, the audience held their breath as they anticipated the performance to come. The competition, hosted by the music organization “Music For All,”  took place on Oct. 28 at the CEFCU Stadium at San Jose State University, in which marching bands from California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington participated. This year, Lynbrook’s marching band and color guard team took second place overall.

The competition began with a performance by each school during the preliminary round in the afternoon. Afterward, the bands were placed according to the judges’ scores, and under their respective class which was determined by student population between grades 10 and 12. The top ten performers, regardless of their class, moved on to the finals in the evening.

Lynbrook’s show, based on a suite from the early 1900s by English composer Gustav Holst called ‘The Planets,” was designed and written specifically for the BOA competition, particularly placing emphasis on the “General Effects” category that played a heavy role in the scoring criteria. The “General Effects” category assessed how well the visual and musical elements of the performance came together to make an aesthetic and entertaining performance that evoked an emotional response from the audience. With practices starting as early as August, the marching band practiced every week on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Meanwhile, the color guard had special “double day” practices from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. which included running exercises and physical training.

“For the staff, myself and the instructors, it’s a big process,” said music teacher Michael Pakaluk. “We start deciding which shows we’re going to enter and begin designing the show in the fall, right after the previous season ends. But there’s a lot of moving components in the marching band, so a lot relies on outside practices and preparation on the student’s part as well.”

Lynbrook did not place in their specific class in the preliminaries; however, they were able to reach the finals as they placed fifth overall. At the finals, Lynbrook’s performance ranked second place overall, with a total score of 79.65, falling short of first place after West Salem High School in Oregon that had a total score of 83.4. They, however, placed above several other high schools from California, including Homestead and Saratoga High School.

Marching band and color guard members were pleasantly surprised about their results, with cries of joy and excitement heard all around.

“Honestly, I didn’t really expect much, because we got seventh place last year, and fifth place the year before that,” said junior Jennifer Yang. “I was expecting something around fifth to seventh, so I was surprised. Everyone was surprised.”

Following the competition, students reflected on their results. Many felt that their win proved something about the band, and credited their success to hard work.

“I think it shows us that we have the ability to make it to the top, and that we’re not always going to hover below bigger bands around us,” said Yang. “We have the ability to go up there, even if we’re a small school, or we’re not as loud.”

For freshman color guard member Evan Liu, her experiences helped her become more committed to the team and strengthened her connections with others.

“I definitely think there was a lot of help from the staff and the instructors, because they put in a lot of time,” said Liu. “But it was also our dedication because without everyone there, we can’t run a show. We each have our own specific dot, and without one person, then it’s just completely different. It felt really good to see that all of our work from practices and learning our show had paid off.”

The marching band ended the season on a positive note with its achievement at BOA. The competition was a learning experience for many, and the team hopes to work harder for improvement in the future.

“The scores and the results are really just an afterthought, and though there’s some validation in that, it’s not the primary purpose,” said Pakaluk. “The goal is to keep moving forward, each year trying to be better than the last year, and each practice trying to be better than the last one. The purpose is to grow, as individuals and as a group, and push ourselves as performers to reach a level so we can inspire the people watching the show.”