Band Makes History at Bands of America Austin

By Sloka Chandrasekaran, Social Media Coordinator

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  • As the show comes to an end Salem Liles '20 catches the rifle and ends in a pose. The band and Color Guard walk off the field.

    Photo By Alondra Garza

  • April Gao '20 does a star jump into the air. She lands and continues with a pirouette and runs off to join the other members of Color Guard.

    Photo By Alondra Garza

  • Bryan Groves '22 holds his flag up high as the trumpet players perform around him. Front ensemble players are focused in to play their instruments in time.

    Photo By Alondra Garza

  • Colorguard members show off their colorful flags. This is the first of three different colored flags that is in the show.

    Photo By Alondra Garza

  • Peter McGuinness '21 joyfully plays his instruments with the rest of the front ensemble members. He gets ready to make a big impact with the cymbals.

    Photo By Alondra Garza

  • Trumpet players surround the sleigh prop as they perform their feature in the show. They watch intently at the drum majors to maintain the pulse.

  • The trombone players walk off the field after performing. After leaving the field, they wait for results to be announced.

    Photo By Alondra Garza

  • Cole Broberg '22, Donovan Gribbin '23, and Peter McGuinness '21 watch the drum majors to see when to start playing. As they wait, they think through their music and what to play first.

  • Band and guard members wait in their spiral formation before the show begins. They all watch each other for reassurance and good luck.

    Photo By Alondra Garza

  • The Westwood Band lines up on the sidelines waiting for their time to start. Their time starts and the band runs onto the field.

    Photo By Alondra Garza

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The Westwood Warrior Marching Band attended their first annual competition, Bands of America (BOA) Austin, on Sept. 28. Their show is entitled Believe, which depicts a winter theme and explores the magic of the holiday season.

“Our show is really impactful this year,” Marc Mathieu ‘20 said. “We really wanted to connect with the audience in a way that we never have before.”

This year, 26 bands attended the competition, and the top 10 bands made it to the final round. Nine of the 26 bands have consistently made finals in years past, so the band had their work cut out for them.

“We’ve all seen videos online of other band shows,” Adi Jandhyala ‘22 said. “Even though we’ve improved a lot, other bands have too so we need to make sure we don’t lose our focus through our competitive season.”

Having a performance time of 3:30 p.m., the band took advantage of their morning and had a rehearsal. However, halfway through their rehearsal time, it began to rain, so the directors took the initiative and instructed students to disassemble props, put away instruments, and get inside. But after almost all the equipment was put away, the clouds parted and the sun shone bright again, with no trace of rain ever pouring. The directors sent the five drum majors inside to get the whole band out as fast as possible.

“[The drum majors and I] literally dropped everything and sprinted inside to get everyone back,” drum major Andrew Stevens ‘20 said. “We wanted to finish out the rehearsal, and we got that opportunity. I’m really happy that the band was able to be super flexible and maintain a good attitude through all the sudden changes.“

The students repped a few more spots in their show with their additional props: Christmas trees, a sled, Frosty the Snowman, and ornaments. After ending their rehearsal on a high note, the band did their daily dismissal chant before heading inside for lunch.

“We really needed that rehearsal,” drum major Sonia Ballada ‘20 said. “Not because we were unprepared, but because we needed to solidify our progress and boost our confidence going into today’s competition.”

The band began packing their uniforms and needed equipment for their performance and proceeded to board the buses to go to the Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex. Upon arrival, student leaders got with their instrument sections to lead a stretch and perform annual traditions. Soon after that, the whole band came together again to warm up with their daily movement exercise, marching fundamentals, and music technique. At 3:30 p.m., volunteers arrived to take the band to the field for their performance for judges and the thousands of audience members.

“When we were told to enter the field, everything hit me so fast,” Matthew Jourdan ‘21 said. “Our months of practice had led up to this moment. I put everything I had in me onto that field, and I think we did phenomenal.”

Shortly after the band’s performance, drum majors from each competing band had to head back to the field for what is known as “retreat”. Drum majors would represent their respective bands on the field to accept awards and be recognized. After each band received their participation awards, the finals announcements began. In random order, seven of the nine bands who had made finals in years past were announced. Students waited anxiously to hear the final three bands.

“I feel like the announcements happened so slow,” James Robinson ’23 said. “We just wanted to know if we made it to finals or not, and it was kind of stressful just having to listen to every other band be announced and count how many spots are left.”

The list continued. The eighth band was announced. Students became more antsy as the number of open spots available started to decrease. But then, the announcer paused slightly, adding extra effect. The ninth band announced was the Westwood High School Marching Band. Students jumped around, screamed, cried, and hugged one another. For the first time in Westwood Warrior Marching Band history, these students were finalists.

“I don’t think I’ve ever cried so hard in my entire life,” Maddie Medina ‘20 said. “This is especially important for the seniors because after three years of ‘almosts’, it got really frustrating and disappointing, but actually making it to finals was so worth it. I’m so proud of all of us.”

The students beat out two regular finalist bands, and that encouraged them to be even better. As the band celebrated their victory, they quickly had to get back into their focused mindset because they drew the first performance slot of the evening. After warming up for a second time, the band got ready to perform once more at 7:00 p.m.. After the students performed, each band got on the field to listen for finals results.

“The band finally believed in themselves, and the judges believed in them,” Associate Band Director Mrs. Brittany Dacy said. “These kids have been pushing themselves so hard and it paid off. Although we placed tenth in finals and eighth in the preliminary round, these students are showing consistency and confidence, and I could not be more proud to continue on this journey with them.”