Once the home and away team leave the field, the crowd enjoys a 15 minute intermission. But as the drumroll starts and the horns begin to play, at last it’s the halftime show. Music bounces and fills the air, white, black and green jackets graze through the grass. It’s the marching band! But football games aren’t the only place the band performs. What some may not know is that marching band is more than just a halftime show.
To find out more about the marching band, an interview was conducted with Mr. John Karos, one of the THS Instrumental Music specialists, to get a better idea of what goes on besides sporting entertainment. As well as evaluating this year’s team at Tuscarora.
Dozens of high school bands stand before judges at competitions, with different categories, points and skill level. The density of the show changes the amount of groups present, smaller shows tend to have 15 to 20 groups, while previously at the state competition 45 schools had attended. These groups are separated into their division typically depending on their size, but this year was based on ability level. There is the lower division, which is called the A division. Then, there is the upper division, also known as the open-class competition. The directors this year choose groups based on capability. The majority ended up in the A division and 10 to 15 groups were in the open- class, including THS’ marching band. This year the Tuscarora’s band performed seven times, that being road competitions and going to various schools. Most of these schools were in Carroll County and Frederick County. Later on in the season the band travelled to Baltimore for a show and a couple more in Anne Arundel County.
The bands are split into two ability levels and are judged on a variety of things. There is ensemble music, how the group plays together. Then ensemble visual, involving marching and the visual performance on the field. The general effect category being how well you tell the story of the show and whether it was depicted properly. Lastly, percussion and colorguard. All of the categories are part of the band’s total score. The total is out of 100 points. The larger categories such as music and visual are 20% of the total. Then color guard and percussion are 10% of the total score. All together equalling 100 points.
Compared to previous years, 2021 has been a unique experience. An average band features 80 to 85 students, but this year there were around 50. This year was expected to be interesting given that many students have not been involved in the activities before due to the pandemic. Band instructors started at square one with all performers to ensure the whole group did everything together. Considering the circumstances, the students were able to absorb information very well. To quote Karos directly, “I thought it was definitely a major learning experience. The one thing that we noticed of the group that was maybe different than other groups was that they performed really well.” When attending different shows the performance of the group might be higher one day and lower on another. It’d be expected when attempting to have 50 kids to do the same thing at the same time, but this year’s band performed very well consistently. Performers listened to the feedback throughout the week, worked on it and then performed again. Performance was a strong category for the band and continued to do so at a high-level.
Marching band, it’s more than just a halftime show.