2009 Band Feature: Washington High School
Filed under: — Dan Balash @ 7:00 am

This is the first in a series of 13 band features for the 2009 season.  Washington is a city of 13,000+ people, located 10 miles from Peoria.  Washington High School has 1,138 students and is in the Mid-Illini Conference, which also includes Pekin, Morton, Metamora, and Canton-just to name a few.
Today, we talk with Jim Tallman, director of bands at Washington High School.

Illinois Marching Online: What is your prior directing experience?

Jim Tallman: I am in my 17th year of directing my alma mater-Washington Community High School.

Who do you have assisting you at Washington?

JT: Lisa (Theis) Parrott is the assistant band director.  Bob Barker is the percussion instructor.  Keri Bowles  is the guard instructor.  Brenda Hendrick  is the marching tech.  All of these are hired by the school.  We hire other band directors to help at camp and we generally have 2-3 alumni helping throughout the season.

IMO: What is your 2009 show?

JT: This year, we are performing the music of Led Zeppelin.

IMO: How do you arrive at your shows and musical selections?

JT: For eight of my seventeen years we have utilized classic rock music as the repertoire for our show.   It has become the “trademark” of the program. We try to have arrangements that are meatier and more expressive than your typical pep band charts while still providing entertaining music for the half-time crowd.  For several years, I have used the arranging skills of Tom Wallace and Craig Fitzpatrick.  We hope to have a fun and entertaining show with students demonstrating solid marching and music fundamentals.

IMO: What is your instrumentation breakdown this year?

JT: We are marching 15 Pit, 20 battery, 27 Guard, and 119 Winds.

IMO: How big is the preferred size for your band?  Why?

JT: The bigger the better!  I will trade the challenge of cleaning a bigger band for having more students in this form of music education. The more students participating – the more students are benefiting from studying music and participating in a physical fitness activity.

IMO: Is marching band volunteer or mandatory for students enrolled in concert band programs?

JT: Voluntary – – but most members march. Typically we have anywhere from 10 to 25 members not march.  This year, we have 14 members that are not marching.

IMO: What is your rehearsal schedule like from the beginning of the season to the end of the season?

JT: We do 8 days of band camp spread over a two week period (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday -Wednesdays are off). Besides our class period in the school day (around 50 minutes daily) we average one evening rehearsal a week. The nights change of the evening rehearsal depending on the sports calendar.  We have many students participate in fall sports, so I look to see which night of the week will have the least amount of conflicts with the sport teams.   Color Guard and Percussion have an additional evening sectional each week.

IMO: What does your competition schedule look like?

JT: Mostly local shows.  We generally do 4 — but our competition has to go early this year (September 12th), so we will be doing 5: Washington, Mt.Zion, Pontiac, Metamora and U of I.

IMO: What do you look for when choosing a competition?

JT: The past few years, one of the main things I consider for a competition has been whether the competition is in the evening our not. With all of the students in sports, an evening competition provides a better chance of having fewer students missing for a show. I also tend to stay closer to home to keep traveling costs down.

IMO: What are some of your memories from directing at Washington?

JT: Performing at Superstate, performing in the evening parade New Years Eve at the Magic Kingdom, performing at the IHSA Boys Basketball Semi-Finals, performing at IMEA All State, performing at the WIU Symposium with Tony Maiello, and commissioning pieces by Andrew Boysen and Todd Stalter – both that have received several performances and recordings.

IMO: Any additional thoughts or comments?

JT: We are in a great conference (Mid-Illini) from a musical standpoint. Canton has had a great program, and they should be fun to watch with their talented, new director.  East Peoria just started marching a few years ago, and they keep getting better and better.  Dunlap had a great year last year – their program of having two marching bands is educationally paying off. Limestone is getting better and better under Mr. Empey (their concert program, last year, was one of the best I had heard from their school). Pekin has had some cool shows under Mrs. Skelton. Metamora probably has the best music education program around.  So many students participate in band, choir, guitar, keyboard classes, drum classes and steel drum ensembles. Morton is one of the finest marching ensembles in the state. It is great to be able to see and hear such programs so close to home.

Illinois Marching Online would like to thank Mr. Tallman for his time answering the questions, and would like to wish Washington Community High School the best of luck this season.

(full article)