The 2015-15 school year is proving to be one for the record books for Oakdale High School marching band, drumline, colorguard and drum major as all four recently entered the winners circle at the Santa Cruz Band Review.
Specifically a huge milestone was recently achieved by the OHS Marching Band and drumline at the competition. Both groups placed second in an event that is full of Northern California regional class competition.
“The big deal about placing is for the entire band,” music director Ross McGinnis stated, noting this was the first time in over 33 years that the band has placed in Santa Cruz. “Our drum majors and colorguard have placed before. This is the first year we’ve competed there with drumline. That being said, placing in all four categories for this event molds a new precipice to attain when it comes to our future ambitions.”
McGinnis shared that for most competitions the band wouldn’t be so ‘ecstatic’ about placing. But the prestige of the competition and lack of placing in the past eight years made it a sweet win.
“To have all groups bring home a trophy was a tremendous leap into a new echelon of the band’s existence,” he said.
The music director shared the group started the year with a new approach from years past. The director began with complete instrumentation which allowed him to choose a tune and start working on it immediately, rather than wait a month or six weeks as done in the past.
The chosen tune of “Glorious Victory” was made by Assistant Drum Major Luis Cruz, then chosen and approved for the band. The OHS group chose to order the original march from England, which was designed for an outdoor marching ensemble.
“We were able to hit the ground marching,” he said of the new proactive approach, “because of this we were able to participate in an early competition.
“This is important as some of the new players can’t quite grasp the entire concept of being just on everything,” the music enthusiast stated. “Notes and rhythms must be perfect. All notes must be played in tune. All of the articulation and fine nuances of the music must be performed and executed together, perfect.”
McGinnis emphasized the importance of precision in not just instrument playing, but marching and composure as well, noting that a misstep or wrong note can cost the group valuable points.
“If attention is paid to these and a myriad of other musical aspects, a band can jump out of the mid and low score rut that is typical with small and mid-sized bands,” McGinnis said.
For the two short months leading up to the Santa Cruz Band Review the band members spent endless hours not just perfecting their instrumental parts but their formation as well. Practicing on the field, utilizing the yardline to train muscle memory for consistent step. The colorguard plays an equally important role, as they must stay congruent with the band.
“Even the kids carrying the banner have to be absolutely in step with uniform posture and carriage,” McGinnis stated.
“The best part of that day for me was watching the kids’ expressions while they were hearing the results of our division,” the director said. “They knew we had placed because Daniel Davis, our drum major was on the winner’s stage. I didn’t tell any of them, including the drum major, what place they got.”
As the places got counted down, the excitement began to build.
“They heard fourth place go by, a little smile,” he described of the day. “They heard third place go by and their eyes got wide and their heads slowly turned to one another, jaws slowly dropping ... waiting for it, followed by screams and cheers when they announced Oakdale as second.
“Seniors have been hungry for this since their freshman year,” McGinnis concluded. “Quality performance receives quality scores and placement.”
The OHS Marching Band will compete once again on Saturday, Nov. 14 in the Central Valley Band Review in Merced and Saturday, Nov. 21 at Lincoln Tournament of Champions in Stockton.