The Mission Viejo Marching Band and Color Guard competes in the WESTERN BAND ASSOCIATION (WBA), a nonprofit organization that promotes high school music education in California, Arizona and Nevada. The WBA organizes numerous competitions in three California regions (North, Central and South) and the regions come together at a championship event that is considered to be the second largest single marching contest in the country. This is held the weekend before Thanksgiving.
Each of the bands performing at the events is diverse and has their own story to tell. The largest bands have over 300 members and the smallest have just 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.
How Are Competitions Judged?
Bands are divided into “Classes” based on their size (1A, 2A, 3A, 4A and 5A). Mission Viejo competes in the 3A 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 competitions, each band is judged in the following categories or captions (with the following weights): Music: 30%; General Effect: 30%; Visual: 20%; Auxiliary (i.e., Color Guard consisting of Flags, Rifles and Sabers): 10%; and Percussion: 10%. The classes are also combined into “Divisions” (1A/2A/3A are one division, and 4A/5A another) that participate in a Grand Championship at the end of the season.
Competitions are held on Saturdays. The WBA website will list performance times for each competition. The bands perform in class order with Class 1A bands performing first in the afternoon and 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 often two award ceremonies (one after 3A for the 1A/2A/3A bands and one after 5A for the 4A/5A bands).
- Know what time your band performs, map out your drive, and allow extra time for competition congestion and parking. The WBS website will list performance times for each competition. The bands will perform in class order, beginning with 1A and ending with 5A.
- 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. Be prepared to park in surrounding residential neighborhoods or a nearby shopping center and to do some walking.
- 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 and $5-$7 for children. Bring cash as some venues are not set up to take credit cards.
- 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.
- Keep conversations to an absolute minimum during performances (unless cheering for a soloist or particular show attribute). You are very likely to be sitting next to, behind, or in front of someone whose child is on the field performing. Avoid making critical statements.
- Turn cell phones on “SILENT” mode and don’t answer it during a performance.
- Flash photography is not permitted, so be sure to turn your “Auto Flash” to OFF.
- Programs are sold and snack bars provide the usual hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, candy, drinks, etc. All the proceeds from the ticket sales, programs and snacks go 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.
- Support all bands and cheer when they do a good job. Recognize that effort at the end of each and every performance by showing your enthusiastic appreciation. It is also polite to applaud when a band takes the field for competition.
- Tell a band member or parent/supporter that their band did a great job if you encounter them on the way to the snack bar, etc, even if you don’t know them.
- As the students are constantly reminded, YOU are representing Mission Viejo High School and the Music Program at every competition. Be a good representative and a good sport.