It’s been a busy couple of weeks in the marching band world. We’ve been hard at work getting ready for our big show this past weekend, where we competed in a Bands of America show – which we have only done twice in the history of our program. Bands of America is a much larger pool of bands, which includes bands from all over the country at any given competition.
Last Saturday we had another mini-camp, where we rehearsed a full day. Of course it was that day when it was really cold and really windy. The kids were really good sports, though. They just bundled up in coats, scarves, and gloves, and endured the weather as they learned all of the pages for the final movement of our show.
This week we rehearsed only on one of the practice fields since the main field was being used for games and tournaments. I never like being on that field. It’s usually muddy; you can’t see very well once it’s dark, and the kids have a hard time having focused rehearsals. Not to mention that you can’t get very high up or far away from the band, making our rehearsals function a little differently than we prefer. It ended up being okay though… we’ll be back on the main field.
Because the BOA (Bands of America) show is in the Pontiac Silverdome, and the acoustics in a dome are drastically different than outside on a marching field, we drove out to the Waterford soccer dome to have an extra rehearsal on Friday night. Historically we have done this every Friday before State Finals, which is at Ford Field, but we felt we needed to add one in preparation for this BOA show. Since the dome is set up as a soccer playing field, there are no lines at all. We send a “taping crew” out a few hours before everyone else to line the field and have it ready to march. After our rehearsal on Friday, another band competing in the same show was able to rehearse and use the lines we had made. They beat us on Saturday… they’re really good!
My husband got home sometime after midnight from that rehearsal only to get up and be back at the school for rehearsal less than eight hours later, which is not too much different than what the kids had to do. They had a fantastic rehearsal in beautiful weather getting ready for the BOA show. Around 1 p.m., they loaded the buses and headed to the Silverdome.
Upon arrival we were reminded about the enormity of our activity through the country as we warmed up next to champion bands from Michigan, Georgia, Nebraska, Ohio, and other states. Each of these BOA shows have two rounds – a preliminary round in the morning where everybody performs, and a finals round in the evening where only the top 10 bands of the morning get to perform. The prelim round is divided by classes, while the finals round has no class division. Our big goal was to make it to finals, which we had not done a few years ago when we tried BOA for the first time.
We had a 45-minute warm-up in the parking lot of the Silverdome then headed to the tunnel to enter the field. News kids are always pretty intimidated by this, but I think the upper classman have this same nervous excitement when they enter this kind of performance arena. I know I always do, and I’m not performing! We always have to point out the hash and field marking differences on an NFL field than a high school field to make sure the kids set up correctly.
The band performed a great show, and it was a joy to watch them in this setting. The kids and staff alike were really happy with how they had done. After taking the official BOA picture, we headed back into the dome for the prelim awards. Not surprisingly, we didn’t win a single division caption award or placement. At this point, I thought we didn’t have a chance to make finals since there were so many amazing bands there. After all of the caption awards and placements were given out, they announced the 10 bands that would perform in the finals. I started packing up all of my baby stuff as they were announcing, barely paying attention. The first few that were called were bands that we knew had beaten us. What I didn’t hear was that bands were announced in “no particular order.” Lo and behold, the ninth band they announced was FERNDALE HIGH SCHOOL! The kids were so excited (so was the staff)! We are all so proud of them.
The performed a very energetic, fun show that evening at finals. We didn’t make it past the bottom in the end, but we had gotten to finals at BOA, which was a historic moment for the Ferndale Golden Eagle Marching Band.