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saxyman

ISU 2011

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1A

1. IVC (Music, Effect)

2. U-High (Visual)

3. Eureka

 

2A

1. Morton (Music (tie), Effect, Visual)

2. LWW (Music (tie))

3. Limestone

 

Lakes Community: Crowd.

 

Congratulations to IVC on your first finals appearance since 2007!

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IVC has a great show this year. Still a little confused at U-High in second, as I didn't feel their performance had the best visuals. Guess that's why I'm not a judge! Can't wait to see recaps. On another note, I quite liked Providence's show.

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Under this schedule, IVC, Morton, and Normal West, and LWC are the bottom 4 bands from 1A-4A prelims.  VJA, Lockport, and  Lincoln-Way East are the bottom 3 from 5A-6A.  Lake Park, Downers Grove South, O'Fallon and Prospect are the top 4 from 5A-6A, and Marian, Plainfield North and Lincoln-Way North are the top 3 from 1A-4A.

 

Also, fun fact of the day: All of these bands have participated in BOA events (or in the case of Plainfield North, next week) at least once in their history.

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NO WAY! O'Fallon and LWE were FANTASTIC during prelims and Morton lost to Normal? there were some definite upsets, I do think Marian Catholics show this year was a lot weaker this year than in previous years. (From prelims performance of course) I didn't stay for finals. But wow O'Fallon and LWE were the best band I've ever seen, Lincoln-Way East had people on the shoulders of other people and people playing laying down, very impressive and O'Fallon was like heaven for your ears and there drum majors were very in sync! Prospect was also great but they got 2nd so that's okay. ISU is getting more and more talent each year and Marian Catholic better watch out in the next few years because there are bands getting up to there level...Very exciting day.

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Great day to watch Illinois Marching Bands.  A couple of thoughts on the day - in no particular order.

 

- seemed like a lot of "death" in shows.  Morton - somebody dies at the end we just aren't sure who, A.A. Stagg - the cycle of life ending with death, Lake Park - killed the music, and Marian C - doesn't get any heavier than the Crucifixion for marching band.  Seems like I missed one.

 

- Eric Whitacre is sure making a lot of royalties from bands these days

 

- for any of you with knowledge about scoring - how detrimental to a bands score is it when a major technical glitch leaves you without melody for about 24 bars.  I felt awful for LWE and their acoustic guitar snafu in finals that left Bolero without melody in their opener.  They seemed to recover alright but I wondered how it affected their score (haven't seen any sheets yet) especially considering their placement.

 

- thanks ISU for not doing "shout outs."  I know they make money for bands but I personally find them distracting.  It seems to add class to the show when they are absent.

 

- I think I heard four people who thought the large flag props Lake Park was using were the French Flag when I'm pretty sure it was meant as a reference to the U.S.  If people have to guess at the meaning maybe the prop wasn't too well thought out.  LP sounded good and their drill was pretty clean but I thought the show design had a lot of incongruity.  We weren't sure if the fact that three of the flags didn't drop was part of the show since it happened in both prelims and finals - and if so, what was the significance?

 

- What's the deal with LWE and no tubas?

 

- There's something really appealing about Morton.  I'd love to see them try a show without such a heavy theme next year.

 

- band fans are great.  I talked to people from probably eight different bands over the course of the day and they were all as nice and friendly as could be in discussing their individual groups.  Not an attitude to be found.

 

- ISU - good times.

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Finals Results

 

1. Marian

2. Prospect

3. LWN

4. DGS

5. Lake Park

6. O'Fallon

7. VJA

8. Lockport

9. LWE

10. Normal West

11. Plainfield North

12. Morton

13. LWC

14. IVC

 

I attended tonight's finals and have been following marching band for 15-20 years. I won't mince words, so if you are offended easily, it is not intended but I am being blunt about what I saw. All of the kids seemed to do well and it is good that people are spending their free time with good programs like these. I think the 1-14 lineup proves that there not only a lot of diversity stylistically, but reasons for optimism with regard to improvement in some circles while others should consider exploring other ways to maximize the talent.

 

14. IVC - Energy on field but crowd was just settling in. Obviously glaring issues as any 14th place band would have, but overall a pretty strong start to the evening. Deserving of the 1A title.

 

13. Lincoln-Way Central - Saw them here if for no other reason than their show design is lower-level comparatively Achievement not quite there either, but well performed enough musically to make the cut and into the second show.

 

12. Morton - Still a developing program with upside and I am waiting for that next step to be taken. Woodwinds as I recall were the strength of the group and demand on performer probably is in the Top 8. Not sure if the run was good or not, but would've placed higher if it read that way.

 

11. Plainfield North - Tough slotting based on previous bands' performance -- Design very lacking in my opinion but PN plays with a full sound and their visual was fairly clean, though I hesitate to say clean with many of these shows.

 

10. Normal West -- Show concept was cute for mom and grandma, but I wasn't really digging it because the little kid, bed-time and all of that is overdone on the marching field. This was a stronger Normal West band than most years and it showed. Opening set was pretty nice and they didn't overuse props, as they well could have.

 

9. Lincoln-Way East -- Yep, this is about where I would place these guys. Very rough performance, both visually and evidently either not a great run or a weak overall band this year. I was disappointed, though I believe they still have a little time to get things together. Still, a far cry from a few years back. With T.C. at the helm, I have no doubt they'll rebound.

 

8. Lockport -- Music performance was quite good -- powerful, demonstrative. Now, I'm not sure if they'll ever be able to put the whole package together (music/visual demand), but watch out if that ever happens.

 

7. Victor J. Andrew -- Pretty solid all around. Strong representation from VJA this year.

 

6. O'Fallon -- Again, judges as a collective group --RIGHT ON -- Thought they had a nice showing, though visual at the back stage --of a non-consequential matter-- was a bit challenging at times.

 

5. Lake Park -- Music performance - Very good. Visual demand - Very average. Show concept -- Lame. Save the Music? Really? I know that if I were in their band..doing a show like this would kill my morale. But after seeing their finals score at BOA St. Louis -- watching the on-demand finals performance-- they have improved enough where I think they can sneak in Indy Super Regional Finals. Some people have them out, I have them breaking in at the back of the line, but breaking in.

 

4. Downers Grove South - Only mildly surprised DGS outplaced Lake Park. This was one of the strongest editions of this program I have seen. Seemed like they really geared up for finals.

 

3. Lincoln-Way North -- This show was extremely creative and well choreographed. The music book for the ensemble may not have been on the scale of a national finalist, but if you're going to use props, USE the props -- and LWN did to great effect. I very much enjoyed this show and I tend to be more of a purist in that I don't like props of any kind. Great work1

 

2. Prospect-- Always a fundamentally-sound band, which fuels a high performance at this event, though I would never go out of my way to call them groundbreaking. Respect the heck out of their staff for the consistency in the program, especially since the new regime has successfully transitioned the program into a new chapter with ease. Enjoyed the performance...but always left wanting just a little more.

 

1. Marian Catholic -- By far and away at an advantage with this contest falling near the final BOA competitions. Anything less than a victory here would've spelled trouble for them. Extremely layered musical program with an equally demanding visual book -- possibly just as much so for the audience as the performer. They really spread out that field. Clearly heads-and-shoulders about the competition in terms of demand, but from an effect point-of-view, I really have a difficult time getting into the final piece --namely the end portion. It ends much too abruptly for my taste.

 

*I read in a previous post a couple of comments of how this band or that band should have been higher. Or that Marian Catholic has to be concerned because their performance level has dropped. Couldn't disagree with both statements more. 

 

1) The bands who played the best, marched the best AND have talented staffs that give them a competitive advantage with fine concept and drill to match tend to place higher at most competitions.

 

2) As long as Greg Bimm leads Marian Catholic, I highly doubt that anyone in this state will catch them in the near-future. I saw in Lincoln-Way North tonight where I think a challenge could ultimately come from in the future, but let's all realize that Marian Catholic performs in BOA Grand National Finals each year without fail with a program that progresses far past the ISU calendar. Their program is in fine shape from all things I saw tonight. I am unsure if it is national championship caliber just yet, but I don't really see anyone doing what they do in the State of Illinois.

 

3) Lake Park needs a better direction from a conceptual and visual point of view. Their musical performance was strong enough, in my opinion, that a more demanding visual book and a far less ridiculous concept would've possibly worked much better.

 

1. Marian Catholic

2. Lincoln-Way North -3.0

3. Prospect -4.0

4. Downers Grove South -8.0

5. Lake Park -9.0

6. O'Fallon -9.5

7. Victor J. Andrew -10.5

8. Lockport -11.5

9. Normal West -13

10. Lincoln-Way East -14

11. Morton - 14.5

12. Plainfield North -15

13. Illinois Valley Central -15.5

14. Lincoln-Way Central -16.5

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All,

I have not been involved with bands for the last 20 years or so but I do have eyes and ears.  Although I felt the performances at finals were quite enjoyable, I do think there's a distinct "expectation" in the results.  I have seen this all too often in many band contests where the perennial favorites continue to be the perennial winners in spite of evidence to the contrary in terms of performance.  It appears to me that in order to "dethrone" the favorite, your show has to be phenomenal, exceptional, and leave no doubt that it is the best.  It is not good enough to be better, that will not push you over the top.  I also believe that the bands who frequent a particular venue are somewhat placed higher than their counterparts who have not been in a particular contest.  No, I'm not Oliver Stone, and I'm not paranoid, just observant.  I get that this thing is subjective and they try to get judges who are unbiased bit somehow I think they're still underachieving on that front.  I still enjoy attending these events although I just wish they were a little less predetermined...

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This will undoubtedly be controversial, and I do not mean for it to be taken that way at all..

 

I understand the direction of marching band is changing, but what I don't get is, why?  In most schools, the purpose of a marching band is to provide entertainment for a football game.  Competitions are second in your purpose.  Why then, are so many bands using concert band arrangements for their field shows? As a band director, it is hard to find shows that will be both competitive, yet entertaining for your home crowd, but they are out there!  I am a huge fan of Eric Whitacre in a concert band setting, but I can only take so much of him on the field. Watching the rest of the bands at U of I, and I can only assume ISU as well, everything starts to sound the same after a while.  Do these bands play these shows for football games, play a completely different show, or not play at home games at all?  <legit question..  Talking to a neighboring band's parent recently, they said "Hardly any of the band parents go to the football games, because we can only stand to be bored to death once in a weekend, and we'd rather support the competitions."  That's sad to me!

 

Side rant...why use props?  If you can't support your theme/show with your drill, music, and auxiliary, then you aren't doing something right.  The same goes for electronic music, narration, and recorded music.  Why?!

 

Now, by no means am I negating the work that the students, directors, and support staff do.  They are all extremely talented in what they do.  I guess I'm just an extreme traditionalist! :)

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I am a second year band parent. Marching Band just ain't my thing but I am supportive of my kids and I am glad they enjoy it. It has served them very well.

I am not a technical band person, yet I know what I like and what I don't. Again, I don't know the ins-and-outs. I am impressed by the athleticism (yes) that this requires. I can barely walk and chew gum.

 

My thing is - don't sing, do play the instrument, don't set the instrument down, use props only when necessary and then make them work.

 

Bias=Morton

 

1. Marian - don't like vocalists. Didn't "get" the ginormous prop. The show felt about 45 minutes long.

2. Prospect - good, but it was getting cold.

3. LWN - Again - I am not technical. BEST SHOW EVER. Surprised me. Used the props appropriately and well. Very entertaining. It is a hotdog away from dinner and a show.

4. DGS - WAY too high for DGS.

5. Lake Park - Don't like vocalists in Marching Band. A Bell Chorus? Whatever. Hugely elaborate props that don't all work and are used to little effect? Horrid. (I knew they weren't French - France is Blue, White, and Red - subtle but diferent.)

6. O'Fallon - very solid and should have been a little higher.

7. VJA - I made no notes.

8. Lockport - one of the worst. This wasn't Marching band - this was dancing while holding instruments. Talented soloists, though.

9. LWE - no props! Impressive!

10. Normal West - I am a "space nut" so the JFK think gave me goosebumps. Unless this little kid is a genius who is a high school student, get him off the field.

11. Plainfield North - I am fine with 11th.

12. Morton - Crowd still wasn't settled. I've seen this show a lot and it was a very clean run. I don't think "Hunger Games" is well known among adults. (It is going to be another Harry Potter thing - movie comes out in March.) Word is they were 7th in Music, 4th in VE and 14th in GE. I think someone just didn't get it.

13. LWC - got a hot dog instead.  Sounds like I didn't miss much.

14. IVC - Another downstate band. Sucks to go first.

 

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Marching band IS changing and I agree that the main function USED to be entertainment. That doesn't mean that's still the case for everyone. Hopefully education is the main priority for every group.  If your administration is understanding about wanting the band to have a different role and function then what's the problem? Part of a directors job is educating your audience as well. I'm sure folks didn't go from entertainment only marching band to a Marian Catholic style show over night. Who is the band program for? Ultimately it's for the kids so they are the number 1 consideration of programming and the long term development of your program. As for your question about why do concert band arrangments/music on the field, it comes down to putting quality music on the field. Most bands start working in June/July/August and don't put a show to rest until late October/November, so there had better be enough substance to keep drawing things you can teach from and to support the level of artistry found in many of the shows out there these days. The theme from Batman isn't going to last you for 5 months of instruction. If you're upset about the trend towards this with marching band, find a high school that does an entertainment only show or a college marching band and frequent their games and not the competitions where they're obviously showcasing the type of music you don't enjoy. At a bunch of the central IL shows I saw a ton of smaller bands playing very light/pep bandy type shows. Catch some smaller shows. I try to throw my audience a bone by using a different pregame "dance feature" for each home game so if they like the entertainment stuff they can catch pregame. Hopefully they also enjoy halftime since we usually add something new for each game it's not the same show twice.

 

I do agree with you about why use props and electronics that aren't well thought out or integrated into the show. Just doing it to say you have it doesn't work. I've always been opposed to both myself, but after seeing them used tastefully and in a way that really supported the show at BOA semifinals last year, I've changed my opinion somewhat. Have you tried catching a show where everyone is really achieving full integration of all of those elements? It might change your idea as well. Everybody has to start somewhere too. Don't expect every band to use them effectively the first time out of the box with them.

 

Nobody puts in this much work to NOT have their efforts recognized and with their students feeling a sense of accomplishment and success at the end of season. Why do a show IF you choose to compete that has no chance of scoring well or placing?

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Would you mind being more specific, with what outcomes you didn't agree with?  Downers South and Lincolnway North being in the top 4 sure doesnt seem like the status quo to me.

 

All,

I have not been involved with bands for the last 20 years or so but I do have eyes and ears.  Although I felt the performances at finals were quite enjoyable, I do think there's a distinct "expectation" in the results.  I have seen this all too often in many band contests where the perennial favorites continue to be the perennial winners in spite of evidence to the contrary in terms of performance.  It appears to me that in order to "dethrone" the favorite, your show has to be phenomenal, exceptional, and leave no doubt that it is the best.  It is not good enough to be better, that will not push you over the top.  I also believe that the bands who frequent a particular venue are somewhat placed higher than their counterparts who have not been in a particular contest.  No, I'm not Oliver Stone, and I'm not paranoid, just observant.  I get that this thing is subjective and they try to get judges who are unbiased bit somehow I think they're still underachieving on that front.  I still enjoy attending these events although I just wish they were a little less predetermined...

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I agree with what you are saying, and I would never have my band do a stock arrangement, or a Hal Leonard box set.  We do original pieces, but ones that are upbeat and in your face but with its soft side as well.  The killer for me with a lot of the shows is that there is usually no climax.  It stays the same consistent level, with the nice symphonic sound, but no great "Ahh" moment.  It's just my preference, and my kids' as well. 

I never said what the bands are doing is wrong-it's done well, but not my cup of tea for marching band.  For instance, I loved Batavia's show this year, but unfortunately, what I payed attention to the whole time were the two violins and cello.  I couldn't have told you what the guard, or the rest of the band was doing, because I was focused on the pit the whole time.  They served the show well, but if you have to rely on amplified strings as the focal point for your marching band show, maybe a different show should have been picked? Again, I thought it sounded great, and just using them as an example. 

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