2009 director’s feature-Watseka High School
Filed under: — Dan Balash @ 11:43 am

Watseka is next on the director’s feature for the 2009 season.  Watseka is located in Iroquois County, on the Illinois/Indiana border.  It is 51 miles Northeast of Lafayette, IN, and approximately 75 miles south of Chicago.  It is a town of a little over 5,000.  Watseka High School has a student body of a little under 400.  Today, we talk with Erik Parmenter, director of bands at Watseka.

Illinois Marching Online: What is your prior directing experience?

Erik Parmenter: I taught for 4 years in the Milford Public Schools in Milford, IL.   This is my 9th year at Watseka.

IMO: What is your 2009 show about?

EP: Our 2009 show is “Around the World in 8.5 Minutes.”  It’s a musical journey around the world featuring music from various locations and cultures.  Musical selections include – It’s A Small World, Cortez (Latin), Mandijiani (African), Russian Sailor’s Dance, Korean Folk Song, Danny Boy and America Fantasy.  Each selection is approximately 1:00 – 1:30 in length.

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

EP: In previous years, we have selected shows from catalogs or other sources based on the strengths of our band.  With a small group (50 students) it’s hard to find music and drill that fits our ensemble from year to year.  For the past 2 years, we have taken stock marching music or concert music and arranged it to fit our needs.  This year’s show grew out of a desire to introduce music from other cultures and genres that are not normally featured in marching shows.

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

EP: We have 6 props designed to look like flags from the various country’s and regions depicted in our music.  Our guard has several unique props and equipment to represent the music.  And, our drill is very connected, there are only a couple of complete stops in the entire show.  So, it is really 8 1/2 minutes of continuous music and motion.

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

EP: We have 1 drum major, 18 winds, 11 brass, 8 battery, 7 pit percussion, and 6 guard.

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

EP: We have a 3 day “mini-camp” in mid-July, a 5 day camp at Eastern Illinois University the last week of July, 2 rehearsals per week during August and one evening rehearsal per week September – October.  We also rehearse during the band period 2 or 3 days a week.

IMO: What does your competition schedule look like?

EP: We are attending:

Mt. Zion – September 19

Pontiac – September 26

Metamora – October 10

U of I – October 17

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

EP: Mandatory.

IMO: Who is on your staff?

EP: Myself and my wife Sally, who is the colorguard instructor.

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

EP: This season, I first looked for competitions in the evening.  We have many students who are involved in sports programs, which cause conflicts with Saturday morning/afternoon competitions.  So, I tried to schedule competitions that would allow students to do both.  Then, I looked for competitions that would provide a memorable experience for our students.  Metamora is always an excellent competition, and my students love attending the U of I. Mt. Zion and Pontiac are new for Watseka, and we are excited to attend.

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

EP: As big as possible.  Last year, we had 60 students – which was the largest in recent history at Watseka.  With a school enrollment of 370, I expect the largest possible group for us would be around 80-100 members.

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

EP: Stepping onto the field at BOA St. Louis last fall, winning multiple competitions during the 2006-2007 season, having the privilege of seeing my students mature and grow from 6th grade through senior year.

Illinois Marching Online would like to thank Mr. Parmenter for his time answering the questions, and would like to wish Watseka the best of luck this weekend at U of I.

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