2011 Director’s Feature: Belleville East
Filed under: — Dan Balash @ 11:11 pm

Belleville East is our 3rd Director’s Feature of the 2011 season.  Belleville is a town of about 45,000, located near St. Louis.  Belleville East has a population of 2,692 students.  Today, we talk with Mark Tessereau, director of bands at Belleville East.

Illinois Marching Online: What is your prior directing experience?

Mark Tessereau: I am in my 18th year at Belleville East. Before that, I was band director at Emge Middle School in Belleville.


IMO: What is your 2011 show, and what are the musical selections?

MT: This year, the show is entitled “The Brain: 101”. The music is from an arrangement by Key Poulan called Classic Schizophrenia.


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

MT: Honestly, I try to utilize my staff as much as possible. We arrive at one or more meetings with numerous ideas and try to arrive at a consensus. We actually try to come up with a concept and music that really work together.


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

MT:The visual staff has been working hard to develop the look of the band. The students have always played very well but have lacked in visual in the past and we are trying to change that.   The drill is also really challenging this year, as evidenced by the fantastic visual scores we have received so far!

Something else to watch out for this year is our drum line. Instructed by Nic Goodman and Matt Amos, they are really something to see. The book was written by Nic who really has a talent for bringing out the best in each student.


IMO: What is the instrumentation/guard breakdown for 2011?

MT: This year we have 16 flutes, 18 clarinets, 7 bass clarinets, 15 alto saxophones, 6 tenor saxophones, 19 trumpets, 9 mellophones, 9 trombones, 4 baritones, and 9 tubas. We also have a batterie percussion section of 4 snares, 2 tenors and 5 basses with 11 in the front ensemble. Guard numbers are 24 and we actually have a junior varsity element this year with 32 members.


IMO: What is your rehearsal schedule like for the season? Is band camp at home, or does the band travel?

MT: Band camp is at home. This year we tried a unique approach for us. The first week was so amazingly hot that we started at 6 AM and ended at Noon instead of our regular 8 AM until 4 PM. During the school year, we rehearse on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school for 2 hours. Color Guard and Percussion rehearse one extra day per week.


IMO: What does your 2011 competition schedule look like?

MT: On August 27, the drum line competed in the Mozingo Music Percussion Competition in St. Louis. Then on September 10 we hosted our own show and that evening traveled to the Metro East Marching Classic in O’fallon. On September 17 we went to the Edwardsville Tiger Ambush Classic. It is not competitive but on September 25 we will be part of the halftime entertainment at a St. Louis Rams game. October 1, we travel to Blue Springs, MO. October 15 we will be at the BOA St. Louis Super Regional and October 22 at the Greater St. Louis Marching Band Festival. We close our season at ISU on October 29th.


IMO: There has been considerable buzz about your band attending ISU this year. Has the band ever attended ISU? How do you choose what competitions to attend?

MT: We have never been to ISU but thanks to no schedule conflicts, we are able to make the trip this year. I really hope that this will be a great end of the season for us. We generally choose competitions that have historically hired a great/ well known judging panel. Then we find out when homecoming is or which Saturdays we may have home football games.


IMO: Who is on your staff?

MT: Nic Goodman, Matt Amos and Craig Rude make up my percussion staff. Sharon Schafale and Ethan Bridges are on color guard. Timothy Hassall and Chris Gass work with winds and Tim Coady is on visual staff and he helps out with color guard.


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

MT: Bigger is not always better. I think this year’s band is about perfect based on all elements including management and instrumentation. If we are talking about perfection then I would say 128 winds and supplement with a good size percussion section and rather large guard. 128 would be a perfect number for writing drill.


IMO: What are some of your favorite memories from the bands you have directed?

MT: When I took our top jazz band to the Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival a few years ago, Shelly Berg was our clinician. This is a noncompetitive festival which gives bands a great recording and more importantly, a great place to perform. Master trumpet player, Wanye Bergeron was the guest artist and headliner for the festival. Before my band performed, we watched most of his masterclass but had to leave early to warm up. Once the performance is completed, the clinician (Shelly Berg) takes the band into another room to work with the group. That room was the same as Wayne’s masterclass and he was just finishing up. I saw Shelly approach Wayne and say something quietly to him and he sat down. Then he asked my band to pull up Take the A Train… the Tonight Show Band version… and kicked off the tune. After more than a minute went by, I realized that they were just in a second performance for Wayne Bergeron. At the end, Shelly said “I just wanted you to hear that!” to Wayne. That was one of my most proudest moments as an educator. That and a few performances at the IMEA All State Conference with both concert and jazz band.


IMO: What are you most excited for this year?

MT: For marching band, I love everyone’s attitude. I am impressed with the band this year. For concert band, our Wind Ensemble will get to perform at the IMEA State Conference in January. We are commissioning a work this year for a student who passed away a few years ago and will get to work hand in hand with Andrew Boysen, Jr. I am anxiously awaiting the excitement of that performance and our first world premiere.


Illinois Marching Online thanks Mr. Tessereau for his time in answering the questions, and wishes Belleville East the best of luck with the rest of their season!



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