After months of preparation, marching band heads to contest

By: Hannah Sanderman

After polishing their routine since August, 175 students and two band directors from Cedar Falls are headed to Waterloo Central Middle School on Saturday, Oct. 10 for a state contest.

The Tiger marching band’s 2015 show is entitled “Any Way the Wind Blows,” and student input was a key part in creating it. “Some of the seniors this year wanted to do a show that grooved and had some rock type elements,” band director Kyle Engelhardt said. “Students suggested the Billy Joel show, and some people suggested Queen.”

“We didn’t like any of the shows that were already put together,” band director Gerald Ramsey said. “We liked some the the individual music, but not the whole package deal.” After experimenting with a few options, the two band directors chose music that best fit this year’s band, had a variety of tempos and showcased students.

The show also has “strong audience appeal because that’s important,” Engelhardt said.

Each song selection from this year’s show is a little different, which is intentional. “You don’t want to do the same song four times in a row because you like that song,” Ramsey said. “You like how the four pieces work together.”

A Billy Joel mashup of “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and “Piano Man” is the opener, which “has a lot of drive, and there’s a different feel when we go to the fast ¾ [ in ‘Piano Man’],” Ramsey said.

The lesser known song from the show is a Bill Chase tune called “Handbags and Gladrags.” Originally the song was very trumpet driven. This arrangement doesn’t focus on the trumpet section but still keeps the character from the original.

The slow song or ballad of the show is “Your Song” by Elton John. For a ballad, it is not very slow, “so it is a lot more fun to march to,” Ramsey said.

Then, of course, there is “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen to close the show, which is the most difficult piece in the show, but it is definitely a show stopper if the band can pull it off.

An important part in pulling the whole show together is the rehearsal at 9 a.m. the morning of practice, which takes place at the high school. “It might be the only time during the marching season that we have everybody in the band present at the same time,” Ramsey said.

To start the two-hour rehearsal, the band warms up by marching and playing, then begins to review specific spots in the show. Then at least one whole show run through takes place, with the help of many parent volunteers to make the setup and teardown instantaneous.

After breaking for lunch, the band reconvenes at the high school for a uniform inspection “to make sure everybody has the right parts before we go to contest,” Engelhardt said.

Those parts include a uniform jacket and pants, white gloves, black marching shoes, hat and, most importantly, an instrument. “Since it’s in town, we’ll get into uniform here at the school, and we’ll know that everybody has everything because they’ll have it on,” Ramsey said.

After arriving at the contest site, “We work hard to stay focused,” Engelhardt said. “It’s just a matter of mental focus until we start the show, so we’re ready to go right from step one.”

The Tiger marching band will perform at 2:20 p.m., and the directors are looking forward to the outdoor experience. In the Dome during performances at football games, everyone can see the band, but hearing them is a different story.“The state contest is the only performance during the year that we’ll do that you can really hear the band,” Ramsey said.

The band constantly is there to support students athletes with their playing, so band members encourage students to return the favor. “Since it’s an in town thing and it’s only $3 for students, it would be awesome to have their [the students] support for us at this event,” Engelhardt said.

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