2011 Directors’ Feature: O’Fallon Township High School
Filed under: — Dan Balash @ 10:06 am

This is the last directors’ feature for the 2011 season.  We hope you have enjoyed our 2011 Directors’ Features.  O’Fallon Township is the last band featured this season.  O’Fallon is one of the fastest growing communities in the St. Louis area, with more than 50% of O’Fallon’s housing less than 15 years old.  It is a town of about 28,000, with a school population of about 2,500.  Today, we talk with Melissa Gustafson-Hinds, director of bands.


Illinois Marching Online: What is your prior directing experience?

Melissa Gustafson-Hinds: I have been teaching in the public school system for 18 years: 4 years – Unit 5 School District (Normal),  3 years – Belleville West High School, 2 years – Centralia High School, 5 years – Collinsville High School, and 4 years – O’Fallon Township High School.


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

MGH: Our show is titled – FOURWARD.  The visual and musical ideas are based upon a continuous ostinato pattern from the selection, State of Independence. In addition, the visual design will display various groups of four, along with a variety of infinity signs. The metallic, copper colorguard costume will also be displaying the infinity sign.


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

MGH: We have new designers this year who have come up with some new concepts for our show this year.


IMO: What is the instrumentation/guard breakdown for 2011? Is marching band volunteer or mandatory?

MGH: Marching Band is a class (co-curricular)- volunteer.  Two fall concert bands exist for those students who are not in the marching band.  It is a requirement for all Wind Ensemble members to be in the marching band.  We have approximately 80 Woodwinds, 60 Brass, 30 colorguard, 28 percussion, and 3 drum majors.


IMO: What is your rehearsal schedule like for the season? Is band camp on campus, or do you go away?

MGH: We rehearse throughout June for our parade season, concluding with the VP Fair Parade in St. Louis around the 4th of July.  We have a week of percussion / colorguard camp which leads into a wee and a half of band camp, which is held on the OTHS Smiley Campus.  During the school year we rehearse every 7th hour and have two days of an hour extended rehearsal and one evening rehearsal in the stadium.


IMO: What does your 2011 competition schedule look like?

MGH:  July 2nd, 2011: VP Fair Parade (1st place overall, best auxiliary), August 27th Mozingo Percussion Competition (Best Bass Drums, 3rd place Open Class),  Edwardsville on September 17th, McKendree on October 8th, BOA St. Louis October 15th,  Greater St. Louis October 22nd, ISU October 29th, and Grand Nationals November 11th and 12th.


IMO: There has been considerable buzz about your band attending ISU this year, for the first time since 2002. What led you to come back to ISU? How do you choose what competitions to attend?

MGH: It is a great performance venue and event.  It is an opportunity for us to compete with the bands across the state of Illinois. Being a southern Illinois band poses difficulty at times in regards to traveling to any northern events. Especially with school budget cuts, I need to plan our performance schedule wisely.   I am an alum of ISU.  I know the strong tradition of this event.  I am so proud and excited to bring O’Fallon to ISU this year!


IMO: Who is on your staff?

MGH: Instructional Staff -Sean Michael Harris – assistant band director, Evan Hinds – percussion director/arranger, Nate Gerstenecker – front ensemble director. Kenyn Brown – Battery tech, Jeff Poignee – Battery tech, Brian Spellman – Battery tech, Scott Toosley – Colorguard director, John Langham – Assistant Colorguard director, Jami Hodges – Student Teacher – University of Illinois, Ryan Pirok – Student Teacher – University of Illinois


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

MGH: Mr. Harris and myself plan several combined performances and events with our feeder programs. The marching band has grown in size the past couple of years and is representative of the band program and the tradition of the O’Fallon marching band.


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

MGH: I believe that this year will definitely be one to remember. Our winterguard placed first at the WGI Championships (Scholastic A) this past spring. Their success has served as a springboard for our marching season. Our new designers and added teaching staff has greatly made a difference with our marching program. Along with the marching band activity, the wind ensemble has performed at IMEA All State and Superstate which have been outstanding musical experiences.


IMO: What are you most excited for this year?

MGH: This year’s marching band is comprised of very dedicated students who work diligently during the summer and school year. Our student leadership team is very strong and serves as role models and teachers to the new band members. Being this is my fourth year at O’Fallon, there is a tremendous focus with the senior class to continue to move fourward toward excellence in performance. We are enjoying the process of learning and improving our show and are excited about performing!


Illinois Marching Online would like to thank Melissa Gustafson-Hinds for her time answering the questions, and wish the Marching Panthers the best of luck in their return to ISU and also at the Bands of America Grand National Championships.

(full article)