2009 Director’s Feature-Atwood-Hammond High School
Filed under: — Dan Balash @ 12:26 pm

This is part 1 of a 2 part director’s feature today.   Atwood is a town of a little over 1,200, located 25 miles southwest of Champaign.  Atwood-Hammond High School has 108 students.  Today, we talk with Shana Gatewood, director of bands.

Illinois Marching Online:What is your prior directing experience?

Shana Gatewood: This was my first teaching job after getting my undergrad degree at Campbellsville University in Campbellsville, KY in December 2004. But I had worked many summer band camps and was a guard instructor for my husband’s band previously.

IMO: What is your 2009 show about?

SG: We are playing a “Disney Show” with an assortment of Disney Tunes. Disney Magical Marches, Trashin’ the Camp (from Tarzan), Princess Medley (Little Mermaid & Beauty & the Beast), & Friend Like Me (Aladdin).

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

SG: Well, it just depends. The 2008 Show was Batman and I decided on that show when I ran across an old marching band show from 1994 from Union High School on YouTube that did Batman and I got inspired. The show this year was inspired from our Band Trip to Disney World this past June to perform in the instrumental clinic & Disney Parade.

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

SG: I usually have a basic format when constructing a show. An upbeat opener that gets the crowd excited, a percussion feature (since I have a smaller percussion- I pull kids off their regular instruments and have them play percussion), a slower and more expressive number, & an upbeat closer. I usually arrange most if not all of the music myself and I write the drill, so my show fits the abilities & instrumentation of my group. I also write into the drill all of the visuals (horn pops, turns, etc).

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

SG: This year we have 15 Woodwinds, 16 Brass, 7 Percussion, & 7 Guard. Our 2 Drum Majors perform on their instruments when they are not conducting.

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

SG: We have a week of Band Camp during the last week of July. Then we only practice during school time (42 minutes a day). Atwood-Hammond is a very small school of 108 students and the students are shared by the football team, volleyball team, cheerleaders, etc. So, in order to accommodate all of the practice times, we don’t have any after school practices.

IMO: What does your competition schedule look like?

SG: We finished our competitive season this past weekend and are undefeated this year. On Sept 19 we traveled to Danville- 1st Field Show, Best Colorguard, & Best DM, Sept 26 we traveled to EIU- 1st Field Show, 1st Visual, 1st GE, & 1st Music, Oct 10 we traveled to Monticello- 1st Field Show, 1st Winds, 1st Colorguard, 1st DM, and on Oct 24 we traveled to Shelbyville- 1st Parade, 1st Parade Colorguard, 1st Parade Percussion, 1st Parade DM, 1st Field Show, 1st FS Colorguard, 1st FS Percussion, and Grand Champion. We are ending the Marching Band season this upcoming weekend, Oct 31st, at our contest that we host.

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

SG: Band is a mandatory year round class including Marching Band, Pep Band, & Concert Band.

IMO: Who is on your staff?

SG: My staff that helps all season consists of colorguard instructor, Rochelle Luttrell (AH’s pre-K teacher), assistant on trips is Vanessa Davis (AH’s 1st Grade Teacher & Band Mom), and the Elementary Music teacher, Tina Nuckols, helps during the band hour. During band camp we hire additional staff- my husband and Shelbyville Band Director, AJ Gatewood; percussion instructor and EIU student, Luis Mandujano; and two Band Alumni, Wade Willoughby (now a member of the marching Illini) and Angela Arwine.

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

SG: There are many really good competitions to choose from in the central Illinois area. We look at location (travel time) and for places that hire quality judges.

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

SG: I would LOVE to have a band of 100 but since my school only consists of 108 students, that is a little farfetched. We currently have 45 members of the Marching Rajahs and that is marching 8th-12th grade students. I think an attainable goal would be between 50-60 students. When bands are smaller they are limited in instrumentation and many times are beat out by bands that just have bigger numbers.

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

SG: I have 2 favorite memories-

1st- We performed in the Disney Parade this past June and as you can imagine, it gets pretty hot in Florida during that time of year. As we were dressing into our uniforms and preparing for the parade the soles on the shoes started falling off. I assume that after 2 days of sitting in a van in the Florida heat the glue that holds the soles of the shoes on had melted. We were trying our best to tape kids shoes together. It was a mess! During the actual parade, I think we lost about 10 shoe soles on the parade route. Needless to say, we have brand new shoes this year!

2nd- This past weekend at Shelbyville, we won Grand Champion. I think the whole band and myself included were utterly shocked when they called our names for Grand Champion. We beat out great schools, including a band of 103 members. I never ask for anymore than their absolute best and that is what I got during their field show performance. I have never been so proud of my students and what was so great was their efforts were rewarded.

Illinois Marching Online would like to thank Mrs. Gatewood for her time answering these questions, and would like to wish Atwood-Hammond the best of luck the rest of this school year and into the 2010 season.

(full article)