March in Hopeful, Return Home Champions--Eagle Band Dominates During Competitions
By Wesley Ward and Chloe White--Eagle Staff Writers
Whether it be a Friday night football game, pep rally, or typical day in downstairs Law, the band has been an influential part of campus life for years. Little is ever said about their competitions though, until now.
This past competition season brought major success, and the group as a whole is apparently thrilled with how everything played out.
“As a staff we could not be more pleased with the results; the students presented a great product with a great performance," band director Rocky Ankeny expressed.
Band competitions are unlike any other. Each marching band performs a 7-8 minute production with music and flags. The bands are then critiqued and scored by judges to help inform future decisions as the team continues to develop their show.
"Each year a show is developed, designed (from scratch), rehearsed, and continually built upon from June through November," Ankeny explained. "This year our 2021 Production is entitled 'Round & Round.' It deals a lot with circle imagery in the various pieces of music played."
Alex Kurtz, a junior band student, said,"The hardest part of a band competition does not come from going and performing, but dealing with the physical and mental toll you get from them. Competition days are very long and you essentially sacrifice any break you would get over the weekend to go and perform with your friends. It is well worth it, though."
The geometric complexity behind this year's show led to high rankings at the Virginia Marching Band Cooperative State Championships.
“We placed 5th in our class, and won the Color Guard Caption award within our class (our Color Guard Score was actually the highest in prelims)," Ankeny reported.
It seems the competition was fierce.
"There were 30 Bands in attendance, and the top 12 made finals and performed again later that night. We were less than a point from finals, which is a HUGE improvement [from] over 2 years ago!” Ankeny said.
With so many schools attending one competition, deciding a winner is much more complicated than most realize.
Band competitions use a unique scoring system, separating the show into five captions: Music Performance, Visual Performance, General Effect, Percussion, and Color Guard. One person adjudicates a specific caption based on what's being performed (content or composition) and how well it is being performed (achievement).
“Scoring is very subjective; we could go to three different shows on the same day and get three different sets of comments with three different sets of scores," Ankeny added. "Unlike basketball where you get three points for making a basket behind a specific line on the court, one of our judges can write down just about anything they feel justified about."
Each caption is weighted slightly differently from show to show, but the majority of a band's score will come from the Music Performance, Visual Performance, and General Effect scores. At the end of the night, every band's score is totaled and added to a recap sheet along with judges' comments, which are then given to the directors.
"We can then see how we compare against others, and use judges' tapes [audio recordings each judge makes during shows for feedback] in addition to their score sheets to help us continue to get better at our show,” Ankeny continued.
Now that the marching band season has ended, concert season begins and members turn their attention to indoor performances. After that, it's back to thinking about next year's show and taking this season's lessons into the next program.
"At the end of the day, it isn't about trophies or winning or losing. It's about the journey along the way, the lessons learned, the memories made, the skills acquired, and the product that students and staff can both be proud of," Ankeny summarized.