Saturday March 11 brought with it the MSBOA Band and Orchestra Festival at Harper Creek, in which both the Gull Lake Concert and Symphonic bands would showcase their hard work–with pride, of course. They did indeed do Gull Lake proud, as the Symphonic Band came away with a score of one in all categories–the best possible result.
“I wasn’t expecting us to do that well, so I was surprised,” Senior Shane Howell said, although he chalks the accomplishment up to the structure of practice.
“What we normally do is, you know, practice in class but I think what really made us do better this year was that we had like sectionals time on our own where each section was in charge of themselves, so it kind of held everyone accountable for their own parts,” Howell said. “Rather than Mr. Burris just being like ‘This is what you do’ everyone kind of found out on their own.”
The band got an early start the day of the event. Symphonic Band was able to watch the Concert Band perform before getting lunch and collecting their instruments from the coat room in which they’d been stored.
“We’re not allowed to play until we’re in the warm up area so while we were in the coat room we sung all the pieces and it sounded really cool,” Howell said.
The band was then able to briefly play through their pieces in the warm-up room.
“We were all pretty excited,” Howell said. “I’m not sure that everyone was expecting (straight ones) because Rest, (one) piece we played, is a very challenging piece, especially because a lot of people are playing quietly and it’s hard to stay in tune and blend when you’re that quiet.”
To make any predictions as to their performance ahead of time was made further impossible due to conflicting acoustics.
“Because our school doesn’t have an auditorium, it’s hard to prepare for (a performance) because sound characteristics are different than in the band room–and certainly the gymnasium–so certain instruments are drawn out more, and each auditorium’s different,” Howell said. “It’s always a new experience going there and performing.”
Following the on-stage performance, the bands participated in a small sight reading section.
“It’s fun; there’s like the pressure to play it right the first time and it almost makes the music harder even though it really isn’t,” Howell said of sight reading.
Bands receive one of two possible pieces to play and 5 minutes to prepare before executing it to the best of their ability. Performances aren’t compared between bands, however.
“They judge how well you performed it,” Howell said. “They’re not judging the bands against each other; they’re judging the bands against a set standard of excellence. That’s why multiple bands can get straight ones.”
Gull Lake’s Symphonic Band was one such band at Festival, to the delight of members, director, parents, friends, and district.