2009 band feature-Rock Island High School
Filed under: — Dan Balash @ 7:00 am

Rock Island is next in our director’s feature.  Rock Island is a town of about 40,000 located in the westernmost part of the state.  Rock Island is one of the Quad Cities, along with Moline, Bettendorf, Iowa, and Davenport, Iowa.  Rock Island High School has a little more than 1,500 students.  Today, we talk with Peter Carlin, director of bands at Rock Island.

Illinois Marching Online: What is your prior directing experience?

Peter Carlin: Before becoming the Director of Bands at Rock Island, I was the Assistant Director and Jr. High Director for Rock Island Schools for 6 years. I also taught at St. Pius X Catholic School in Lombard, Illinois for one year.

IMO: Who is on your staff?

PC: My staff is:

Michael Tollenaer – Assistant Director, Ashley Wilson – Assistant Director, Alan Conner – Percussion Instructor, Sarah Davis – Guard Instructor, Greg Schwaegler – Music Arranger, Ted Reicher – Visual/Drill Writer

IMO: What is your 2009 show about?

PC: Our 2009 show “Night into Light” is set with the idea of night time into daytime, i.e. the movements are “Midnight”, “3 a.m.”, “6 a.m.” but that is just the setting, it is more about what is happening at those times, “Midnight” is really about the chaotic nature of that time of night. Thinking about different aspects, “Midnight” is a time when lots can be happening, even thought it is night, there is a lot of activity at “Midnight”, that is why every movement has a subtitle. “UnRest”, “Darkest before Dawn” and “DayBreak”. We also look at how musically we can take you from Night to Light, starting with a theme from Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra, which is not very pleasing to the ear necessarily and is very chaotic in form. Then into Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a  Fawn which is more melodic by not completely without dissonance, to finally Dvorak’s “Symphony #8, Mvt. 4” which is very pleasing to the ear and creates the sense of day break or light when the melodic motive hits in that movement. So it is really taking you through “Night into Light” in different ways than just time of day and you will also see that in the visual aspect as well.

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

PC: Well, that is a process that starts about this time of year for us. My music arranger and I tend to throw ideas back and forth until around December. Then we usually settle on one idea, talk to the visual arranger for his input and go from there. Sometimes it can be a piece of music we have heard, a play on words we like, or just about anything that we can think of that sounds fun for marching band. Then we just go through the basic writing procedure, hashing out the horn book first, with visual ideas, then get the percussion written, then the drill and guard work come into play as we start to finish the show. Luckily for me I have some really great arrangers and writers who I work with and can roll with anything I throw at them, but at the same time keep me grounded.

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

PC: Hopefully you are going to see and hear when every time change happens. Every Movement begins the clock striking. So when you hear the chimes, you know the movement is changing. You will hopefully also see some really good drill visuals such as the moon rising in 2nd movement and the sun coming up in 3rd for the day break. Those should be the things that stick out in the show.

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

PC: Our instrumentation is okay this year, we have 9 Flutes, 8 Clarinets, 13 Alto Saxes, 2 Tenor Saxes, 1 Bari Sax, 16 Trumpets, 4 Mellophones, 8 Trombones, 3 Baritones, 2 Tubas in the winds. 7 in the frontline and 10 in the battery (2 tenor, 4 snare, 4 bass) It’s a good group of musicians this year.

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

PC: My ideal size of band would be about 125 – 150 marching on the field. With that amount on the field you can get a great sound musically if well balanced and you can also do a lot visually on the field. The bigger the band the harder it is to clean, so to me this is my ideal size.

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

PC: Our program is volunteer, but it is also a class. So we have a marching band class and then for those that chose not to do marching band we have Fall Concert Band.

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

PC: Our schedule starts with 3 optional music rehearsals during the summer for 2 hours each. Then we start the last 2 weeks of July with camp. Due to our school year set up (we are in a year round, modified school year) we do 3 days of basic marching and music memorization and then 5 days of setting and learning drill, along with some basic marching and more work on music. Then we start with Sunday night guard rehearsal from 6 – 8 p.m. Then Monday night rehearsals for winds and percussion from 6 – 8 p.m. with music the primary focus and Wednesdays we have full band from 6 – 9 p.m. with the emphasis on drill and marching. Then due to our school year schedule we have 2 weeks in October with camp from 9 a.m. – Noon, Tuesday – Friday.

IMO: What does your competition schedule look like?

PC: We do 4 competitions per year. This years schedule is: Geneseo on Sept. 26th, Metamora on Oct. 10th, U of Illinois on Oct. 17th, and ISU on Oct. 24th.

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

PC: When choosing band competitions I look a lot at what our school schedule is, for example, when is Homecoming, when are IMEA auditions, etc. Then I like to get some feed back from my students as to which shows they really enjoyed going too in the past. That’s why we are going back to Illinois this year, the kids loved being on that campus and just enjoyed performing at that show. We also look at how shows are run, but we primarily go to shows that we enjoy going to.

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

PC: Some of my favorite memories: Placing at ISU twice, winning best percussion at ISU in 2003, the 2003 show “Wizard of OZ” performing in a “typhoon” at Western Illinois (best GE score ever!) Those stick out as big, big moments, but every show is unique and every year I have great memories.

Illinois Marching Online would like to thank Mr. Carlin for answering the questions,  and would like to wish Rock Island the best of luck this season.

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