After soggy start to season, Albion Marching Band scores big win

Posted 23 May 2014 at 12:00 am

Provided photo – Ben Miller and the Albion Marching Band perform last Saturday at Seneca Falls.

Press release
Albion Marching Band

ALBION – Mike Thaine has been involved with the high school marching band activity for his entire teaching career, but he says that in those 23 years he’s never experienced a spring like this one.

“The wet weather has been just impossible,” said the Albion High School band director. “Typically we like to move practices outdoors in late March, but this year, because of the seemingly constant rain, we actually had just one outside practice prior to the Lilac Parade.”

The students had the book (music) learned by the beginning of March, and the staff had taught each of the individual sections of drill in the gym prior to Spring Break. Thaine said that by the middle of April, they’d pretty much tapped-out the usefulness of the indoor facilities.

“There’s only so much you can with a marching band in the band room and gym, eventually you need to practice in a regulation-sized judging area. The rain really set us back.”

Luckily for the Purple Eagles, the May 10 Rochester Lilac Festival parade was just a “straight-through” performance, meaning that bands aren’t allowed to perform any kind of drill or formation changes and must maintain forward motion. And, it was an exhibition, rather than a competition. Those factors made that performance much easier to manage given the limited outdoor practice time.

Albion marches in the Lilac Festival parade each year, and uses it mainly as conditioning for their competitions and hometown performances. The Purple Eagles’ normal marching band program utilizes the “open class” or “5-minute rule.” This competition format allows for any formation and direction changes within the judging area, the only stipulation being a 5-minute time limit between the first note of music or movement and the last.

“It’s almost like a field show on the street, except you have the added element of making an entrance 150 feet down-street, developing the show left to right, progressing toward a logical exit from the 300’ judging area,” Thaine explained. “It’s not intended to be a ‘Park and Play,’ where bands simply march into the area, stop and play a song, then march away. There’s more to it than that. Judges look for a development of the whole show, from beginning to end, with drill that complements the musical program.”

Bands are judged on music performance, visual design and execution, and general effect.

The Albion Marching Band started their competition season off on the right foot by posting a win at the Seneca Falls Pageant of Bands this past Saturday. The Purple Eagles’ score of 93 was tops in the seven-band field, earning them the first place award in Open Class by more than 8 points. Also in competition were bands from Baldwinsville, Marcus Whitman, Moravia, Dundee, Marathon, and Mexico (NY).

The band’s 2014 program is titled “Heartbeats” and features loved-themed music. It opens with Queen’s “Can Anybody Find Me Somebody to Love?” before transitioning into “You Give Love a Bad Name” by Bon Jovi. The ballad is Phil Collins’ “You’ll Be In My Heart” from the Walt Disney motion picture “Tarzan.” This season’s closer is “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” by Elvis Presley.

Apparently the crowd at Seneca Falls approved of the band’s performance as much as the judges did. Sophomore band member Zach Shaffer talked about a situation that happened to him after the competition.

“After the parade I went into the cafeteria to buy some pizza and the lady accepting money noticed my Albion Marching Band shirt and told me that we brought her to tears…so must be doing something right!”

The AHS Indoor Drumline also captured first place in their division. Albion next marches in Albion Memorial Day parade on Monday.