Driving rain, wind, and cold weather couldn’t stop the Oakdale High School Marching Band recently as it took first place at the Lincoln Review of Champions in Stockton. On Nov. 17 bands from the Bay Area, Fresno, and the Central Coast flocked to the review because it’s one of the last of the competitive marching band season, which coincides with the end of the football season.
This was the band’s first number one finish in a competition in several years. Forty-eight OHS students marched in the review. They had to prepare to march to a tune that was a classic marching band parade composition. They played “The Billboard March” by John Klohr.
“The seniors really wanted this because they’ve never seen a win,” said Music Director Ross McGinnis.
“It was a great feeling,” said OHS senior and drumline captain John Jeffers. “We put in so much effort. Our hard earned efforts paid off. It feels great and all my peers think it’s great, too.”
He said that the recipe for success was that they held more practices, had good marching coaches, more student devotion, and McGinnis’ direction. Jeffers added that the members wanted the win more than in years passed.
McGinnis reported that senior Cody Marchetti, who plays tuba and low brass, brought his experience from performing with the Blue Devils, a professional drum and bugle corps that competes on an international scale for titles, to help his OHS band mates prepare for competition. Marchetti coordinated and ran a number of extra marching rehearsals, focusing on the band’s weaknesses.
In regards to performing in the wintry weather at the review, Jeffers said that they tried not to think about their surroundings and get in a “zone” by just thinking about the music and performing as a group.
“We are judged on our legwork and spacing with marching, evenness of stride, posture – all visual stuff – down to a visual inspection where the band could be penalized for the length of a pant leg, a lock of hair hanging over a collar, a missing button on the uniform,” McGinnis said.
He also reported that there were two judges for music, two for marching, two for showmanship, two Colorguard judges, and one Drum Major judge. Things like fingerprints on an instrument can result in docked points, but not dents as dents cost money to repair. In fact, OHS had one-hundredth of a point deducted for a member wearing an earring. The bands start off with 1,000 total points and the judges dock points from there. McGinnis noted that the judging comes from a military tradition. The members stand in formation at attention for three to four minutes while they’re being inspected. The music instructor and parent volunteers may not go on the street or communicate with the band members during inspection.
“Musically, every single pitch, rhythm, articulation, and dynamic marking must be followed verbatim to the score,” McGinnis added. “If you miss any of those, you lose points. After that you get judged on tone, balance, intonation, and just collective ensemble playing – starting and stopping together, holding notes congruently as an ensemble, marching with the beat of the music…”
The OHS Colorguard, coached by Tammy Kumanchik, had their first victory in quite a while as well at the review, McGinnis said. They’re graded in much the same way as the band for routine, visual, flag spinning, synchronous movement, and so on.