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  1. Top 14 Bands in Illinois

    Let's say you like woodworking...and you are really into it. It's a passion of yours, and you're really good at it. Your friends, and people who are also woodworkers that sell their pieces and make a living from it, like your stuff and say you have a real talent. They think you should do this for a living, you're so good at it. So you work on lots of pieces over the years, sell a bunch at shows and get some pieces featured in the trade magazines and what not, and take great pride in your work, because you know (and lots of other people do, too) that it's darn good. And let's say you're currently working on something really intricate, something that really matters to whomever you're making it for. And you're in your shop, carving, sanding, whatever... And you've been at it for five hours straight (well, you stopped to hit the bathroom once, and grabbed a bag of chips to munch on), but you're starting to get tired, so you say "Man, I've got to take a break, give this a rest, come back tomorrow when I'm fresh, OR I MIGHT MAKE A MISJUDGMENT AND MAR THIS WONDERFUL PIECE I'M WORKING ON." But you figure you don't have to finish the honey-do list quite yet today, and continue to work... Then it happens...just like you feared it might...your steady and sure hands failed you (not sure why, it just happened unexpectedly), and you gashed out more wood that you wanted, ruining all the delicate work of the last five or so hours. Well...now you know what it's like to be a judge for ISU Prelims and Finals. Stop crapping on the judges already...
  2. Scores for 10/23

    OK, I need to get these two things off my chest (ahem)... IMHO, to say that ISU's show is one of the worst run in IL in terms of the quality of the judging is at once both ludicrous and ignorant. For crying out loud, look at what those people DO. They know exactly what they are seeing and hearing. Do anomalies exist sometimes between the numbers?...yes...do scores tend to inflate throughout the day because of human error and sensory overload combined with fatigue?...yes...but it's pointless to pick apart the judging (especially when it comes to figuring out who "deserves" to be in Finals) and say "There's no way so-and-so band was a tenth higher than such-and-such band." Really?...how do you know?...do you know the exact area of concentration that was better or worse between the two groups?...no, you don't. It could be as simple as a couple of musical phrases falling flat, or one or two drill moves that just didn't quite lock in that a judge ends up giving, say, a "79" instead of a "81" on that area of the sheet. I mean, you're a staff member, right?...you see sheets, right?...you see how they are divided into two or three sections, right? So you know that judges don't give one overall score, their total score is made up of two (or three) separate numbers that are added together, each number respective to a different area of concentration on the sheet, based on a linear scale. Those folks apply the scale based on what they see and hear at that moment...NOT to what they saw or heard two hours ago, or will see three bands from then. Period. I think most of them are from out of state, and don't judge here very often...they could care less about what Lake Park or VJA or anybody did on October 2nd...they see what they see and hear what they hear "in the now." And if they DON'T...they don't judge again at a contest that has the stature that ISU has. If the judging is so bad, then maybe you know better. Tell me...what is the EXACT difference in Music General Effect between a 14.1 and a 14.2? I mean, if we're going to hold these guys and gals accountable to every tenth of a point, then they better darn well be able to explain what that tenth actually IS, right? Is it one instance of bad trumpet intonation?...a ten second interval where the drum line phased with the winds?...how about not enough exposure for tenor drum technique?...or maybe one or two woodwind runs didn't quite line up?...what is it? I'm sorry, claiming that the ISU panel has been bad for years on end doesn't hold water with me. You want inconsistency?...take a look at the NIU recaps. Ask how those bands/directors feel who got LESS than 1 point for Visual Individual, or whatever caption that was. THAT'S an example of a BAD PANEL. Or, it might be an epic example of "How not to instruct your judges on how you want them to apply the values on the sheets before the contest." On to Marian... I hadn't seen Marian's show before Saturday night, but was told it was "weird," "totally different," "radical." And I was completely unprepared for what I saw and heard. That show is, without a doubt in my mind, the best design they have had in YEARS...it is psychologically haunting, deep, whimsical, aggressive, passive, sad, silly, lovely...it just totally left my jaw dropped open. Whatever your opinion about it, their performance forces everyone to pay attention to what they performed and make a personal, aesthetic decision about it. Now THAT'S amazing. To suggest anything otherwise makes me think that you live on Pluto or something.
  3. Scores for 10/23

    Different panel judged 1A thru 4A. The 5A and 6A panel judged those classes, and then Finals.
  4. Top 14 Bands in Illinois

    From what I understand, the new format at ISU was NOT created to "benefit" the smaller classes. It was created to enlarge the Finals field in order to find a way to increase participation in Finals from quality bands in the smaller classes WITHOUT taking Finals slots away from 5A and 6A. If you read the rationale that was done (Dan or somebody outlined very well on this site, I can't remember), with the examples from several of the past years of who would have been "in" and "out" if the new system was in place, you would have noticed that the new system would have kicked only 1 band out from 5A or 6A in that time period, and would have allowed some deserving smaller class bands a spot. And, as I recall, that "out" band's Finals appearance that year (Waubonsie Valley if memory serves) was much discussed at the time as being kind of a surprise. The format change was put in place to enhance the ISU competition and allow it to showcase more of the quality groups from the lower classes that are perceived to be negatively impacted by score inflation, and the crappy early morning performance times. It was not created to "dumb down" the scoring, or make things "fair" by "letting small schools in"; on the contrary, I think they succeeded quite nicely in INCREASING the competitiveness all throughout the classes by doing this. Just look at those 4A scores, and Bloomington from 3A in there...BRUTALLY close, all great groups. To my knowledge, never has ISU ever claimed that their Finals format showcases the "top 14 (or whatever it used to be) bands in the state"...that is a fantasy that fans create in their own minds when it comes to this show. In my opinion, to say that the ISU show is a "joke" shows a lack of awareness of what is actually going on. If you can name any other show in Illinois that has the quality of field from top to bottom that ISU has, I'll eat my computer right now. As evidence for why this new system is a good idea, take this for an example...United Township was 10 points clear of Eureka in Prelims (5.5 hour scheduled difference in performance times, but due to the lightning delay it was much longer). But at night, UT only squeaked past by .7 points. So was Eureka a full 10 points worse in performance in Prelims?...I doubt it...judges have to set their limits somewhere at the beginning of the day. United Township performed immediately after Eureka in Finals, so the night judging panel got a side-by-side look at the two groups...so which result was probably the most accurate? As an example of pure conjecture, I bet that under the old system, Plainfield North wouldn't have made it into Finals, which would have been a shame, they are a fantastic group.
  5. Who wins Class 3A at ISU?

    There is no fight for 2nd...Bloomington wins 2nd going away. None of those other bands even come close to holding a candle to Bloomington...sorry.
  6. IHSA Multiplier

    To take this on a tangent, albeit a closely related one...Most who follow marching bands in Illinois know that the ISU competition moves their enrollment figures for classes around...they can slide up and down year to year depending on which schools are accepted into the show. The finished assignments do not always match the stated class sizes on the application...they are "approximate" enrollment configurations. ISU has done this the past few years so they have the freedom to balance their classes throughout the entire field, so that they don't have, for example, 3 bands in 1A and 10 bands in 2A, etc. So, in a sense, some bands are already being "punished" for their school enrollments if they are a SMALLER school within their class framework, since it is likely a school that is a good deal bigger got moved down to join their class in order to balance the entire field. All things considered, however, I would argue that the net result of this balancing has produced more bands of much higher quality in the smaller classes in the last few years than there has ever been. Just a thought to consider...
  7. Student Behavior

    Wow... So, here's my $.02 worth: 1) Marian will score what Marian will score no matter if they go on at 10:00 a.m. or 5:30 p.m. Period. At a certain point, score inflation is a non-factor in this discussion...it really just doesn't matter. Putting Marian in a higher class at ISU, while it does makes sense with the multiplier, makes no difference to the field overall except for maybe opening up one more Finals slot for a 1A thru 4A band and removing one from 5A - 6A. Remember, Marian's show is not even near completion at ISU time...for them, I would think winning ISU is probably nice if it happens, but not much of a factor in the long run if it doesn't. 2) Some schools are already at a disadvantage even in an enrollment-based show, so the whole "punishment" argument is kind of iffy at best. Say your class runs from 500 to 1000...how would you like to be the school that has 504? For sure, nobody in Illinois plays by the "same rules" unless you equate that to "no rules," because some bands rehearse constantly to the exclusion of all else, and others don't. Since marching band is not regulated by any state association (unlike TX or IN) it's all about what you put into it, and each director has to decide what is best for his/her overall band program. 3) Having a system that classifies bands by different "strengths" or whatever is ludicrous. Who is going to make those decisions? How does it look for the marching activity to keep putting schools on or taking schools off the "good and powerful" list? There is no standard scoring system in place, let alone a statewide competition circuit that uses the same judges from contest to contest, so this is an impossible task at the moment, it seems to me. 4) Competition is competition...that's the beauty of it...sometimes you are strong, sometimes you are weak...sometimes you are the best in your class and fall flat, sometimes you aren't but you have a fantastic show and catch another band by surprise. That's what makes this stuff so fun for everyone to be a part of, for parents, students, etc. Over time some bands continually rise to the top and get better, some might go down a little because of a director change or a rise in the competitive level of those around them, etc. That's what makes discussion boards like this so much fun to read and post to ) 5) I don't think Robes has any beef with Marian's program...he knows and appreciates full well how good they are and what they do to get there, being competitive on a national level consistently from year to year. He just has an issue with the "Marian Mystique" I guess. And sometimes he is right...the old saying that "an ounce of image is better than a pound of performance" happens at A LOT of competitions in IL...but I don't think Marian gets the benefit of that so much. Yes, their 2 minutes IS better than almost everyone else's 5 or 6 minutes early in the season. Sorry, it just is.
  8. Student Behavior

    I might be wrong, but I don't think that ISU has ever taken the multiplier into consideration when figuring classification for any of the parochial schools that have attended or usually attend...Brother Rice/St. Laurence, Marmion-Rosary, Breese Mater Dei, etc. School size is the most fair way...there are anomalies that go both ways (small school with big band, big school with small band) but I would argue that there are WAY more competitive advantages for the "big school small band " people over the "small school big band" people. Problem is, most high school-run competitions in IL determine their classes on band size because (and this is just my opinion) directors perceive band size to be a more significant overall advantage: they know that if their band has 75 kids in it, and they go up against a band with 120 kids in it, usually with a mediocre judging panel on board as sometimes happens at these shows, the band with the most people on the field almost always comes out on top, no matter if it was out played and out marched by the smaller group. Some shows classify by "musical playing members" only, meaning those who only contribute musically, which I think is a fairly decent attempt at a compromise between the two systems. Take this past weekend for example...how is Downers Grove South going to run their show by school size when there was one school there with an enrollment of 500, and every other school was easily over 1,000, some over 2,000? I was at that show (which was extremely entertaining and enjoyable to watch by the way...kudos to all the bands that were there), and the school of 500 more than held its own in its class...I am pretty sure they got 3rd. If you want to go to a show where the atmosphere is great and the fans in the stands are supportive of all the bands, then I would recommend Downers Grove South in a heartbeat.
  9. Judges on the Field?

    Don't forget that really good percussion judges have incredible ears. If you were at Downers Grove, then the judge was Kevin Lepper (I believe), and he is one of the best around...can hear everything everyone is doing, regardless if he stays down front most of the time or not. I have a feeling most percussion judges would rather not try to dodge forms all the time, instead focusing on what they hear, and what they can see of the line as it is featured and when it is moving.
  10. Scores for October 2, 2010

    Wait a second, I want to make sure I read that correctly... ROWVA took top percussion at the Olympia show, right? Maybe I have cataracts or something, or my computer monitor is screwed up...we're sure that posting IS correct???... WOW...over Prairie Central and Dunlap???...holy crap on a pita...
  11. Marian band article

    Good grief...maybe it's time to just chill out and realize some "truths" about this situation. 1) Greg Bimm is a genius. He seeks out great people who have creative ideas and who are intelligent, are on the cutting edge of the activity, and are great with kids, and he matches their abilities by arranging music and writing drill to complement their visual artistry and amazing concepts. He does this so his kids can work to experience a more intense and greater aesthetic experience, and to help them realize that music has more personal meaning and importance in their lives than they can dream of. There you go. Any school can have a great program if the right combination of talent/skill/motivation/dedication is present from the school board to the directors down through the parents and kids. Notice I said "great program," not "one exactly like Marian's." That combination is what Greg has. Everyone has bought into the system, and invests in it personally, financially, psychologically, spiritually...it's amazing. And, it's sort of unique, which is cool. Don't give me this "built in advantage" baloney...enough time has passed to give everyone who wanted to a chance to catch up. Anyone can build in "advantages" to their program, but the use of that word in this context springs from viewing things from the angle of "competition" and not education. If you listen to Greg, he cares very little about the competitive aspect of the activity...it's about the artistic PRODUCT and PROCESS, not the RESULT. The numbers are just a way to see where improvements in the product and process can be made. And, Greg would help them all if they asked...he is a great guy, willing to answer any question anyone has about anything related to marching band. Done it, seen it, experienced it. 2) That being said, money is ridiculously important in this activity...music arranging, drill, support staff, equipment (and whatever hauls it around), uniforms, food, ad infinitum. But having lots of money does not equate to excellence, nor does the lack of it equate to inferior performance. The type of program Marian runs demands a lot of coin...you don't just trot all around the Midwest the entire fall with a boat load of staff, marching a ton of BOA events, on nothing. However he obtains the funds, it works for him and for his particular educational situation. Bully for him...there is NOTHING WRONG with that! Other band directors have to find out what works best for them in their particular situation, and every situation is DIFFERENT. Usually, if the folks who complain about what other people have would just channel those energies into fixing their own situations, they would be much better off. So would their students. 3) Please stop with the "judges have predetermined expectations" stuff. Those who do usually do not work for very long at BOA or high profile events such as ISU or Greater St. Louis. I watched Dan Moore's Watseka band come within 1.5 of Marian in Marching Individual at ISU in the early 1990's. I wonder what their dollar spent value was per point compared to Marian ) That score was not out of bounds either...their feet WERE that good. I used to think that the old saying "a ounce of image is worth a pound of performance" was true because still, as late as the mid '90's, I thought I saw a lot of that happen at various shows around the state, but I don't see it very much any more...in the last decade I've seen many bands who should have easily walked away with shows because "everyone knows how great they always are" get beat by an obvious "underdog" who had a better show and deserved to win. And, kudos to the improvements in judging consistency for allowing that to happen. 4) One thing people have to realize is that as you get closer to 100, it becomes harder and harder to push your score higher. The distance between 70-80 is WAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYY larger than what it is from 50-60. In other words, you can make up a lot of ground if you go from being average to pretty good, and pretty good to "darn" good, but to be upper echelon like Marian, Lake Park, etc., you have to be absolutely exponentially better. So, the Limestone person who thinks in ten years that they will compete with Marian...I'd like to believe you, but I just don't see it happening. Morton is a HELL of a band, slays anybody and everybody in central IL by a wide margin, but they are still not in Marian's class yet, not even by a longshot...14 point difference at ISU Finals this year. IMHO it's fair to say that at ISU, a difference between bands of just 3 points is a "significant" difference in the minds of the judges. So, there you go. I think it's fair to say that whatever band is making the greatest artistic statement across the entire spectrum (visual, music, theatrics, drama, expression, et. al. at every possible moment for every individual AND the ensemble) scores the highest. And until bands explore and perform ALL of those things in detail, they don't reach Marian's level. Too bad we don't spend enough time celebrating those achievements, instead of getting all caught up in who should "win." Whose kids won at ISU that night?...was it really Marian, or was it the Lake Park band, who won something greater than a trophy when they played for the Marian band. And exactly how much money did it cost them to do that? ) 5) Statistically speaking, you will find more upper echelon bands in suburban areas, because there is just more money there to support the growth and sustainability of that type of program, and the concentration of talent in staff and people is just greater, plain and simple. Sure, in some other pockets of Illinois, there will be some cities that are affluent and could support a high-power competitive band program, but by and large, it will be up north. So, don't get upset about it, just realize the truth and get over it. Or, better yet, find a way to help your band get more monetary support. Your director sure would appreciate it, no matter where you live in good old Illinois (where our governors make our license plates). Bottom line, folks, is that you just can't do an "apples to apples" comparison of Marian to anybody else, because no one else is like them. It's almost an exercise in futility... ...unless you do it on a discussion board where everyone can put in their $.02 LOL
  12. Where is your band going in 2009?

    Just noticed that Eureka is not going to U of I on Oct. 17, but going to Downers Grove South instead.
  13. 2008 Illini Marching Band Festival

    I know that the U of I "scores" thread was closed due to the Dunlap vs. Morton Great Debate, but... Did anyone else notice that ROWVA outscored IVC in the morning?
  14. Bands of the Year.

    The name of the game in this whole deal is exposure, folks. Parking a group of flutes or saxophones down front playing a wicked lick while the rest of the band is moving is great exposure...and bands are rewarded score-wise for that. That's just a fact. Bands that have good exposure for as many musical elements as possible (instrument families, sections by themselves, drumline, front line percussion, Color Guard, etc.), and execute those things cleanly and musically, will score very well. Same can be said for drill design...bands that use many different types of movement concepts in their drill, and execute it cleanly, will score very well. Except at U of I (sorry, my bias is showing). Currently, it seems to me the whole body movement/physical space thing is being judged more effectively (so many bands are doing it, it must be), so that the more expsoure you have there for that extra "showmanship" type stuff (horn flashes, body posture changes, etc.), again, great GE, higher scores. All great BOA style bands have these elements in their shows...and they can afford to, because they have the funding to hire the staff they need, rehearse like crazy through the summer and fall, and have "visual design" staff people who make sure these things are all there, because it's impossible for one person or two people to do it by themselves. They have directors that are not forced to teach overloads, or at two or three different schools, or different age levels of students. Don't even get me started on the whole Color Guard element...it's like you need a committee of fashion designers and interpretive dance people to figure out how to score well. They plan out their shows like the Drum Corps do...staff meetings about show themes, about which music to select and why and who should arrange/compose it, about colors and textures of uniforms, about rehearsal schedules, about guard costumes, etc. Their marching drills go through many changes throughout the season (usually courtesy of their paid drill writer, and not by the band directors themselves) because they constantly need to adapt to judge's comments about, you guessed it, exposure. Bands that can't afford the visual design staff, and don't have two weeknight rehearsals to put in massive drill changes, and don't reach a particular standard at BOA or ISU are not "embracing mediocrity." Nor are they not pushing themselves towards excellence. They are just a different part of this whole sphere of high school marching band. Some of those programs may have made a conscious choice NOT to do all of the above because they probably feel it is too demanding on their student's time, too demanding on the instructor's time, too much of a financial drain on their school or parent organizations, and feel that total "immersion" in that activity if you will contains values or things that they don't want to teach their students, which is just fine. But, they still feel that competitive marching band is an important part of modern music education, so they give their kids the best opportunity that they can with what they have to work with. And to that comment about IVC needing "fresh blood" there...that's just ridiculous to me. Just because IVC doesn't win 2A at ISU doesn't mean they're not doing their jobs over there. What a quality program.
  15. Bands of the Year.

    We must not be watching the same thing...after watching my DVD again, Eureka halted twice in their opener, once in the 2nd tune, and once in their last tune. Only in the 2nd song did they actually stand still for a significant amount of counts (like 16), the others were just pauses before a change in the tempo of the music. There is WAY more to judging the quality and demand of a marching drill than just movement vs. non-movement. And, there are not very many people who can see something once and determine if that drill really fits the musical component the way it should. It wouldn't do Eureka any good to work on much harder drill given their rehearsal time, and then let it look horrible on the field. BOA sheets reward achievement, and take demand into account while rewarding that achievement, not the other way around.