2011 Directors’ Feature: Effingham High School
Filed under: — Dan Balash @ 1:32 pm

The next band to be feature in the 2011 Directors’ Feature is Effingham High School.  Today, we talk with Brad Wallace, director of bands at Effingham.


Illinois Marching Online: What is your prior directing experience?

Brad Wallace: This is my ninth year at Effingham High School, and I’ve taught here since day one. I attended EIU and graduated in 2003 after student teaching in Aurora.


IMO: What is your 2011 show, and what are the musical selections?
BW: Our 2011 show is titled “Silence Is Golden”. It was originally written by Alex Yoder for the Fort Wayne, IN Carroll High School Marching Band. We’ve put our own spin on it. We really play on the word “Silence” using silent drill and body movement. The three movements are “Dissonance”, “Hush”, and “Silence”. It is all original music. There is a baritone soloist, trumpet soloist, dance soloist, and lots of exposure for pit and battery percussion.

IMO: How do you arrive at your shows and musical selections?
BW: It’s really a three-step process. Once marching band has finished, I give myself a break and kind of analyze what worked and what did not work for us both visually and musically. I then do a lot of listening and ask my staff to listen as well. Then, by February or so, we try to isolate several shows that would be a good fit. We typically use original music that might have been composed for another band, but ask the arranger/composer to customize it to fit the strengths that we have. Finally, I play the music for the band. They usually get 3 or 4 shows to listen to and I let them choose. Usually the kids pick the show that I like the best. It’s important to involve them in the selection process in my opinion.

IMO: What are some things visually/musically to look for in your show?
BW: We try to make sure that we do the fundamental things well in our show before we go after a difficult visual book. But, this year’s show does have a lot of body movement, horn moves, and interesting drill. Musically, the show really does a nice job of featuring all of the band at times. It really lets the woodwinds play, as opposed to a heavy brass/percussion show.

IMO: What is the instrumentation/guard breakdown for 2011? Is marching band volunteer or mandatory?
BW: For this year we have 104 winds and percussion, 3 drum majors and 24 in the color guard for a total of 131. Marching band is required at EHS and is a graded part of our band curriculum. We do allow non-band members to audition for the color guard.

IMO: What is your rehearsal schedule like for the season? Is band camp on campus, or do you go away?
BW: We do four half-days for brass/woodwinds and four full days for percussion and guard in late June. The percussion and guard come in the week before our late July band camp. Our band camp is held here at the high school. After our full week at the end of July with everyone, we begin our schedule of two evening rehearsals per week from 7-9pm. We have a ton of band athletes, so we rehearse late to accommodate their events. Band meets daily for 48 minutes, but our practice field and football stadium are a good 10 minutes away, so we typically use our class time to work music.

IMO: What does your 2011 competition schedule look like?
BW: This fall we are competing at O’Fallon on September 10th, Edwardsville on September, 17th, EIU on October 1st, Robinson on October 8th, and the University of Illinois on October 25th. We host our own contest here on October 15th.

IMO: Who is on your staff?
BW: We have a great staff. Our close proximity to Eastern Illinois University allows us to employ some of their music education students to help us. I also have a few area band directors that help us with summer camps. This year we have Patrick Rheingruber and Jon Summers on percussion staff, Kayne O’Brien for color guard, and Matt Clayton, James, Stanford, and Nick Schulze helping with visual and brass.

IMO: How big is the preferred size for your band? Why?
BW: I don’t have a size that is preferred, but the bigger the better. I want to give as many kids as possible the opportunity to be a part of what I think is a really cool group. It’s hard work, but always very rewarding once the season gets into full swing. When I started here in 2003, the band was very small and we’ve grown a bit each year since. But I think that regardless of the size, it’s all about working towards a common goal, instilling a good work ethic, and having fun.

IMO: What are some of your favorite memories from the bands you have directed?
BW: We’ve had a lot of fun over the years, especially when I see the kids improve and work hard towards the goal. Obviously, it’s been enjoyable when the marching band has had successful shows, but I really enjoy the “process” of getting ready for the shows as much. We’ve traveled to New York twice since I’ve been here, and I’ve really enjoyed that. My favorite memory is seeing the eyes of the freshmen light up at our first show, or the first time we enter Memorial Stadium at U of I.
IMO: What are you most excited for this year?

BW: This year’s band is off to a good start so far, and we have a lot of new members, so I’m excited to see where this year goes. It’s always fun to see how quickly the show improves and how the students get excited to perform.


Illinois Marching Online would like to thank Brad Wallace for his time answering the questions, and wish Effingham the best of luck at the Illini Marching Band Championships on October 22nd.

(full article)