2009 Band Feature-Lincoln-Way West
Filed under: — Dan Balash @ 7:00 am


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

Lincoln-Way West is the newest school in the feature this year.  LWW opened this year, after splitting with Lincoln-Way Central.  West has about 1,000 students this year, and is a freshman, sophomore, and junior school for this year.

Today, we talk with Steve Nedzel, director of bands at Lincoln-Way West.

Illinois Marching Online: What is your prior directing experience?

Steve Nedzel: I was the Assistant Director at Lincoln-Way Central High School for 8 years (2001-2009).

IMO: Who is on your staff?

SN: Adam Rusek-Percussion, Megan Piper-Color Guard, Craig Fitzpatrick-Music Composer, Nick Lane-Visual Designer, Lisa Bordelon-Woodwind Tech, Lauren Gogolew-Visual Tech, Stephanie Neuman-High Brass Tech, Alex Rivera-Low Brass Tech

IMO:What is your 2009 show about?

SN: Our 2009 show is titled, “Warrior: Raising to Battle,” with original music by Craig Andrew Fitzpatrick. It is about the development of a Warrior as it trains and prepares to fight for their land. The three movements are Courage, Wisdom, and Honor which are based off of the Warrior Code that all West students will be expected to follow. The code also develops a person into a Warrior; they must have the courage to become a Warrior, develop the wisdom to fight and win; then finally they will be honored with the title and defend their land as a Warrior.

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

SN: Since this is our inaugural year as a school, I knew that I wanted to have a show that was Warrior themed to get the students excited about their new school, i.e. the mascot, colors, traditions, etc. I wanted to use music that was regal and grand to emulate a Warrior. Craig Fitzpatrick used these ideals to inspire his original composition for the band.

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

SN: Look for the use of the shield as we develop the show. Also look to watch the color guard tell the “story” of the developing Warrior. We also have several different soloists that help to convey the theme and mood of the show.

IMO: What is the instrumentation/guard breakdown for 2009? (pit/winds/brass)

SN: 36 total members: 16 Woodwinds, 11 Brass, 6 Pit percussion, 3 Color Guard.

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

SN: The band is comprised of members from the band, choral, and orchestra programs at Lincoln-Way West and is completely extra-curricular and voluntary. All rehearsals for the marching band are held after school; while the concert ensembles rehearse during the day.

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

SN: We do a 2 week mini-camp in June to practice fundamentals of marching, playing, etc. as well as to prepare for parades on the 4th of July. We had a 2 week band camp in July/August, and rehearsals during the school year are two days of full band after school or in the evening, one day of sectionals, and every Saturday.

IMO: What does your competition schedule look like?

SN: We will be competing at the following: Morton Pumpkin Festival (9/19), Prospect Knight of Champions (10/3), Lincoln-Way Invitational (10/10), Bands of America Regional at Massillon, OH (10/17), and the State of Illinois Marching Band Invitational (10/24)

IMO: What do you look for when you choose a competition for your band to attend?

SN: Primarily, I look for shows that will have quality and consistent judging and great performance venues. I also try to go to a show out of our immediate region, so the students can have an overnight trip and see bands that they aren’t used to seeing each weekend. I think it’s a valuable experience for my students to watch bands that showcase a variety of design and competitive levels.

IMO: What are some of your favorite memories from being a director at the bands that you’ve directed?

SN: My favorite moment thus far with the Marching Warriors was performing at the Dedication Ceremony for the opening of Lincoln-Way West. This was the first opportunity to display our new uniforms and debut the fight song to the community. The students were able to perform in our beautiful auditorium to a completely complete packed audience. The band and choir had active roles in this ceremony, which shows the magnificent support we get from our district and building administrators.

My favorite marching band memory, overall, has to be marching with the Lincoln-Way Central Marching Knights in the 2009 Rome New Year’s Day Parade. The crowd was incredible as they waited for the Pope’s blessing and the following parade. Marching band is primarily an American custom so the Italians and Europeans that saw us got to experience our culture, and they were completely enamored with the whole concept. Our students had an awesome opportunity to be ambassadors to the world and give them our gift of music. We also had an impromptu concert and playing of “Hey, Baby!” with the University of Nebraska-Carney band with St. Peter’s Church as our backdrop. Our students had a great time getting to play with a college band.

Another memory would be marching in the 2005 Presidential Inaugural Parade. Although it was extremely cold in DC at the time, it was impressive to be a part of such an honored American tradition. The students got to see and hear our military bands and bands from around the country. It was also an honor to march past the President on Pennsylvania Avenue.  A band trip doesn’t come without surprises though, this was the trip where we did sightseeing throughout DC while it was about 15 degrees (including 4 hours at Arlington Cemetery) and a 24 hour bus ride home (should’ve only taken 13) due to a bad snow storm, bus break downs, etc. Certainly a trip I’ll never forget for a variety of reasons.

IMO: You were an assistant at Lincoln-Way Central for quite some time. What’s it like being able to start a new band how you see fit?

SN: One of the major benefits of starting a brand new school and program is getting to develop the traditions and standards that will be in place for decades to come. It has been a lot of fun and an honor for me to be a part of this—from selecting and writing the lyrics to the fight song and designing the uniform to determining traditions in the band; it has been an awesome experience. It’s also been great to see how the students are embracing their new school, band, culture, and traditions. They have played an integral role of developing a lot of these new traditions and customs; after all, it is their band. All the Lincoln-Way bands have had a long tradition of excellence and we want to continue that as our school and band grows.

Illinois Marching Online thanks Mr. Nedzel for his time answering the questions, and wishes Lincoln-Way West good luck this year in their inaugural season.

(full article)