The Marching Band is a group of instrumental musicians and Color Guard who perform outdoors and incorporate marching and other movements with its musical performance. Marching Band is available as a 7th period class for all students in the fall semester. The band then continues to practice after school each weekday until around 4:30.
The practice is to learn and perfect a field show which is then performed in competition mostly every Saturday from early October to the weekend before Thanksgiving. The band also provides pep tunes during home and away football games and performs its show at halftime the later half of the football season. The 2018 Field Show Schedule is shown at the right, as well as 2017 competition results.
Field Show Competitions (a.k.a. Comps )?
We compete in the Western Band Association (WBA), a nonprofit organization that promotes high school music education in California, Arizona, and Nevada. The WBA organizes 17 competitions in three California regions (North, Central, and South) and each region has a championship event is considered to be the second largest single marching contest in the country. This is held the weekend before Thanksgiving, usually in Fresno, CA.
Each of the bands performing at the events is diverse and has their own story to tell. The largest band has over 300 members and the smallest have a little over 30 members. Some come from urban areas, some come from rural areas; some come from large schools, others come from small schools. Regardless of each band’s particular circumstances, every student who takes the field has made the choice to make music and art a part of their lives and has worked hard. The shows are all spectacular. Between the band, percussion, and color guard, so many things are going on at once in a given performance that you can watch the same show several times over the course of a season and see something new on each occasion.
First, bands are divided into “Classes” based on their size (1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, & 5A) – we compete in the 4A class. The class system assures that the smaller bands have the same opportunity as a large band to achieve a high score. Awards are given for each class. For the field show completions, each band is judged in the following categories or captions (with the following weights): Music 30%; General Effect 30%; Visual 20%, Auxiliary (e.g., Color Guard consisting of Flags, Rifles, Sabers, etc.) 10%, & Percussion 10%. The classes are also combined into “divisions” (1A/2A/3A are one division & 4A/5A another) that receive additional awards, called “caption” awards in each of the captions/categories listed above (e.g., music, visual, etc.). There is also a “sweepstakes” award for most points overall in each division.
The detailed scoring and results for any given field show can be found on the WBA web site Western Band Association
What can I expect at a competition?
The shows are held on Saturdays. The western band association website will list performance times for each competition. The bands will perform in class order with class 1A bands performing first in the afternoon and the class 5A bands going last into the evening until around 9:00 pm. After the last band performs, there is a brief intermission while the venue prepares for the award ceremony. There are usually two award ceremonies (one after 3A for the 1A/2A/3A bands and one after 5A for the 4A/5A bands).
Some general suggestions are:
- Arrive early (at least an hour before our performance time) – seating at field show venues is limited and the best seats go quickly. Generally those “best seats” are located between the 35 yard line markers and as high up in the stadium as possible.
- Parking is minimal at most venues; you should be prepared to do some walking and, if possible, carpool. Be prepared to park in surrounding residential neighborhoods or a nearby shopping center.
- Items you might want to bring: binoculars, blankets, stadium seats and jackets stadiums are usually not very comfortable and it can get cold at night.
- Admission costs vary by venue, but are generally between $10-$15 for an adult (bring cash as some venues are not set up to take credit cards). $5-$7 for children.
- Most venues will not let you enter the stands while a band is performing; do not leave or return to your seat during a band’s performance. Wait until a performance has ended before moving about. You will only need to wait 15 minutes, at the most, before the next break. There is sufficient time between bands to move in and out of your seating area.
- Programs are sold and snack bars provide the usual hamburgers, hotdogs, chips, candy, drinks etc. All the proceeds from the ticket sales and the programs and snacks go to the music programs of the hosting school. Each year MVHS hosts a competition (Home Comp) which is the biggest fundraiser of the year for our own program.