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

This is the 12th in a series of 13 band features for the 2009 season.

Salem is a town of 7,000 located 70 miles east of St. Louis. Salem High School has 849 students.

Today, we talk with John Haney, director of bands at Salem High School.

Illinois Marching Online: What is your prior directing experience?

John Haney: While finishing my degree at Northern Illinois University, I served as the Director of Percussion and the Assistant Director of Bands at my alma mater, United Township High School for 3 years. After graduating I spent a year as Director of Bands for Durand Schools in Durand, IL.  I am currently in my 2nd year as Director of Bands for Salem Community High School in Salem, IL.

IMO: Who is on your staff?
JH: There’s me as the director of bands, the brassline is run by Tommy Fulton and Travis Heaton,  Percussion is Nick Rankin, Michael Leitzke, and Brandon Arvay.  Guard is Ethan Bridges and SarahBeth Ferrell.  Visual is done by Craig Fitzpatrick (drill) and Hillary Chappell.

IMO: What is your 2009 show?

JH: Our 2009 show is selections from Johan de Meij’s Symphony no. 1-The Lord of the Rings. We will portray different aspects of his story through music and visual ideas to the audience.

IMO: How did you arrive at your show themes and musical selections?

JH: I had thought about doing Lord of the Rings and it just seemed to all fit this year with my staff. It has proven to be quite popular so far amongst students and parents.

IMO: What are some things to look for in your show?

JH: This will be the most challenging drill and music Salem Community High School has performed in many years.  I hope everyone is able to look at all aspects of our program and feel like they’ve enjoyed our show we have put together for them-from the guard costumes, to the visuals, to the flag selections, to the great music that has been written!

IMO: What is the instrumentation/guard breakdown for 2009?

JH: This year, we have 15 percussion, 14 guard, 3 Drum Majors, and 40 winds and brass, for a total of 72.

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

JH: The bigger the better!!  In the 1980’s, Salem Community High School’s band was a “powerhouse” in southern/south central Illinois.  I would like to see SCHS return to prominence as a great band program in Illinois.

IMO: Is your band volunteer or mandatory for those enrolled in concert band programs?

JH: Mandatory.  There is an option for students to only enroll in band 2nd semester should they choose not to be in marching band-but this is rarely used.

IMO: Tell us what your rehearsal schedule is like for the season.

JH: I held a few music rehearsals at the end of the last school year in preparation for the year.  We did a week of band camp in August, then a week of guard/percussion camp the following week.  When school starts, we rehearse daily for 50 minutes, and the guard has a separate 50 minute class period.  The guard doesn’t meet with the band during the school day.  Im addition, the guard and percussion rehearse Tuesday nights, and Thursday nights is full band rehearsal.  We also have a couple of Saturday rehearsals scheduled.

IMO: What does your competition schedule look like?

JH: We are going to a number of shows this year.  On September 12th, we will be attending Belleville East and O’Fallon (Metro East).  The week after, we will be going to the Edwardsville show.  On September 26th, we will attend the competition at Eastern Illinois University.  Then, we have a few weeks off, and the weekend of October 17th, we will be attending the Bands of America St. Louis Super Regional.  Finally, to put a cap on our season, we will be attending ISU on October 24th.

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

JH: The quality of judges present, facilities, distance, strength of competition from bands who have attended in the past, and recommedations from directors who have attended this competition in the past.

IMO: Tell us about some of your favorite memories of being a director thus far.

JH: I’ve had so many great memories from UT, Durand, and Salem.  Standing in the heavy rain at ISU in 2006 and watching the UT kids throw down a great show was very thrilling!  Salem’s last performance at the University of IL competition last year was quite memorable too.  There have already been so many great memories in my short career that I’m definitely looking forward to many more to come!

One last thing, from Mr. Haney: This year the SCHS community was dealt a major blow when our Superintendent, Mrs. Barbara Smith, died from a massive heart attack on Labor Day.  Mrs. Smith was a huge arts supporter.  She would drive to competitions to watch the band compete and talk to the students after the performance.  She was responsible for the purchasing of the new drumline last year, as well as many countless additions we received because of her.  When our colorguard uniforms came in, the first person I showed them to was Mrs. Smith.  She was not just a superintendent, but a close friend.  The SCHS band is dedicating this year’s show, “The Lord of the Rings,” to her memory.  She is deeply missed.

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

Salem is a town of 7,000 people located 70 miles from St. Louis. Salem High School has 849 students.

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