by Allison Leavey
The Bethel High School Marching Band took second place in Group 2 Open Class Saturday, September 18, 2010 at Francis T. Maloney High School in Meriden, Connecticut. Competing against Robert E. Fitch High School, Bethel was just short of taking first place by .050 points. Bethel High’s theme this year was The Dimensions of Existence, broken into four movements: movement one- Singularity, Existence and Coalescence, movement two- Expanse, movement three- Collapse, and movement four- Return to Singularity.
Band Director, Damon Coachman, explains that marching bands are judged based on the quality of music, visual, and effect. Sets and drill for the band are designed by drill designer, Matt Merrick, BHS alumni, and Michael Lombo, color guard director. Although the competition at Maloney High School was only the band’s second competition this year, members have been working diligently since the middle of the summer to perfect their performance. Alison Demers, a junior on the color guard admits, “There’s a lot of commitment… If someone misses a practice, they can fall behind with learning music, marching drill and equipment work.”
Band members are required to practice Tuesdays and Thursdays from five to eight p.m., and arrive at 9 a.m. Saturday mornings to prepare for that day’s competition. Demers adds, “It’s also very important for people in the band and the guard to be [at the football games]. Being in a small band like the one we have at our high school, can [make it] very obvious [that people are missing] because there will be holes or empty spots in the drill, and then we may end up getting points off because the drill [doesn’t] look right or completed.”
Individuals add to the whole success of the band, but many also set personal goals for themselves. When asked about how one expects to improve, Katie Struth, a junior on the guard responds, “Personally, I expect to improve my skill. I want to become better, and I know that if I keep practicing and trying then I will.”
However, the BHS marching band’s devotion and hard work has certainly paid off in recent competitions. Last year’s performance of River Dance scored highly with the judges. When asked about how the band has improved compared to the 2009-2010 season, Mr. Coachman explains that it is too soon to tell considering there have only been two competitions. He is, however, impressed with the work the band has done so far, and has high expectations for this year’s season. “In terms of our goal, we want to make sure they are giving one hundred percent. I am a believer in friendly competition, but I’m more concerned on how we grow and develop. But I do like winning,” he adds with a smile.