2009 director’s feature-Naperville Central
Filed under: — Dan Balash @ 7:00 am

Today’s feature is part of a double feature.  We are presenting Naperville Central and Streator Township today.  Naperville is a town that is quickly growing, population in 2006 was estimated at about 150,000.  3 high schools are in this town: Naperville Central, Naperville North and Neuqua Valley.  Naperville Central is ranked in the top 3% of high schools nationally by U.S. News and World Report, and has a little over 3,000 students.  Today we talk with D.J. Alstadt, director of bands at Naperville Central.  Located at the bottom of this post is a video of Naperville Central from the 2009 Morton Invitational, courtesy of Quick Draw Films.

Illinois Marching Online: What is your prior directing experience?

D.J. Alstadt: I have pretty much grown up at Naperville Central, figuratively speaking.  This has been my only job since graduating from college.

IMO: Who is on your staff?

DA: Our staff consists of Sharon Oliver (Band Director), Megan Bartlett (Student Teacher from University of Iowa), Amber Cotrano (Color Guard), Lorenzo Medrano (Color Guard), Allan Zwettler (Design/Percussion), Travis Batzel (Percussion), Dustin Shahidehpour (Percussion), Brandon Rogers (Wind and Visual), Nick Vizza (Wind and Visual), Kent Worrell (Visual), DJ Alstadt (Design/Band Director), Dr. Tom Bough (Design), Ben Runkel (Design/Percussion)

IMO: What is your 2009 show entitled?

DA: Our show is called “Rock Band”, based on the popular video game. The music consists of hits from AC/DC, Reel Big Fish, Alice Cooper and Guns ‘N Roses and includes a real live rock band.

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

DA: I was at the Virgin Music Store in Orlando, Florida, and was riding down the escalator and witnessed a tremendous amount of mob like excitement. Kids were cheering, pushing, jumping and I had to go see what the excitement was about. As I got closer there were ‘stations’ of the video game ‘Rock Band’ all around the store. It was an amazing sight. I went and watched the kids playing and immediately thought, “what an amazing marching band show concept.” From there the idea was dormant for some time, because that is not idiomatic for today’s marching band show.

Fast forward to last academic year during the winter break. Our community and school are involved in a major reconstruction project at Naperville Central High School. Our football games have all been ‘displaced’, our homecoming was moved to the same weekend as the Illinois State University contest, and I was informed that we would have two home football games. It initially made me think why would we have a marching band this season? Now, to me, this seems like the good time to have a “Rock Band” show!

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

DA: There are ‘five stars’ just like the video game. We start with level one and move through five levels. Colors (Black, Yellow, Red, Blue) like the video game coordinate with the music. Check out our fret boards and rock bands that have sound amplification! The color guard costumes and flags reflect these ideas. There are sounds I have never heard in Marching Band before, for example the solo in “Sweet Child of Mine”, the guitar player is amazing!

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

DA: 9 Front Ensemble, 24 Color Guard, 64 Winds, 15 Battery, 2 Drum Major

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

DA: This may sound ‘trite’ but I prefer to have kids that want to be a part of something special. So large, small, medium- it is ALL fine. Good is good no matter what the numbers are.

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

DA: We are voluntary.

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

DA: The marching season begins in the spring with the color guard and percussion with auditions. Once that is set, we have an orientation meeting. Our student leadership is picked before this meeting. We then have summer rehearsals once a week for three hours. This now is into August moving to our “pre camp.”  This is one week long for 8 hours per day. After that is our 7 day band camp which is typically held on the campus of YMCA Camp Duncan. It is a beautiful facility that allows our kids to get out of the pressures of life and focus on their show. We rehearse hard and play hard during that week. After coming home school begins and we rehearse Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday from 3:30-6:00 PM. We also participate in: two parades, all home football games (only two this year), and rehearsals before competitions. Depending on the distance we need to travel it is early to rise and very late to bed, but we would not have it any other way!

IMO: What does your competition schedule look like?

DA: September 12 – McHenry Festival; September 19 – Morton; September 26 – Wheaton North; October 3 – Amos Alonzo Stagg; October 10 – Metamora; October 17 – Naperville Central Classic (Exhibition) at Benedictine University

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

DA: The general rule is to not look at who is coming to the competition; I focus on the feedback from judges, and rehearse as hard as we can. It does not matter to us if it is a home foot ball game, parade, or Bands of America. Our rehearsal intensity is the same regardless of size or scope.

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

DA: My favorite memories are those personal victories with students. I have the rare opportunity to see kids at their best and worst. It is truly an honor and privilege to be a small part of that process.

Illinois Marching Online thanks Mr. Alstadt for his time answering these questions, and wishes Naperville Central the best of luck this season.

Now, enjoy Naperville Central’s 2009 production: “Rock Band.”

(full article)