Oakdale High School may now add one more group to that of its first place trophy winning list, as the OHS Marching Band took first place honors this past weekend at the Lincoln Band Review. This final competition performance earned the group its third First Place trophy for the 2016-2017 school year.
“We have quality and spirit and those things make a big impact outside,” Music Director Ross McGinnis said of the year’s accomplishments.
On any given Friday night, 39 Oakdale high school students can be found doing what they love – playing music.
The hype and history of Friday Night Lights and Mustang football sets a welcoming stage for the musicians. When asked they each share it’s ‘fun’ playing for their school and community. It’s an opportunity to showcase the talents they tirelessly work on perfecting.
Time spent in The Corral, however, is more of a reprieve than a purpose for the OHS musicians. Their real work, the hours spent practicing, perfecting, fine tuning comes to life when they unload the bus in another city and attend band reviews and competitions.
This is their playing field. Their sport of choice. Their opportunity to come together and put the hard work to the test, at the discretion of the judges.
“It’s definitely been a progression,” senior baritone saxophonist Sophie Jones said of the group’s progress.
“We’re still as mean as we were our freshman year,” fellow senior and percussionist Ryan Hodge said of their team’s talent and drive, “we just have to be more consistent.”
The group notes rehearsal time, work ethic and McGinnis as their drive and key to success.
“All the people in the band are McGinnis kids,” Aalliiee Costa shared, noting that many of them began playing with the band director as far back as fifth grade. “They know what he expects.”
For Costa, music is as much a part of the school’s fabric as any other activity.
“I consider Marching Band a sport,” Costa continued. “We work as hard as any of the sports do. We work really hard to achieve our goals.”
Now entering his sixth year with Oakdale Joint Unified, McGinnis recognizes the significance of the year’s achievements, as well as the effort put in by the students and their families.
“The Oakdale High School Marching Mustangs are now “players” in regard to the marching competition circuit,” he said. “The kids volunteer their time during their lunch hour to fine tune our marching skills and musicianship to succeed in the subjective judging which scores each band out of 1000 points.”
The Director noted that judging is subjective to some degree and he works at getting the students from one competition to the next, with a fresh mind set each time.
“We need to work towards making it unquestionably clear to the judges that we know our music; that we can play in tune, we can control our tone at any volume,” he said, “and that we maintain a clean marching style. Make the judges’ jobs difficult. Make them work harder to find error.”
Ending a season with three of four First Place trophies has truly set a new precedence for the students to come and the veterans as they move forward.
“It was our attention to detail and last year we were second in everything,” sophomore member Charles Frame said. “That wasn’t good enough for us.”
“We were hungry this year,” Hodge added.
Both McGinnis and the students, acknowledge the support of OJUSD administration, OHS staff and OHS Music Boosters as an added ego boosting bonus as they work toward greatness for their community and school.
“It’s really nice to see the support,” Jones said.
“We go visit the elementary schools and basically show off,” Frame said of visits to the school sites showcasing OHS band talents, aimed at sparking young enthusiasts, “and because of the Music Boosters it’s zero dollars to get in.”
“I hope we left a legacy,” Hodge concluded. “I hope we set the standard for what Oakdale High School Marching Band will be.”