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 Post subject: Re: Fairfield Tournament of Champions Results
PostPosted: Fri Nov 22, 2013 9:45 am 
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I think we will need to agree to disagree. I really appreciate the innovations that we are seeing in the auxiliary groups in our band reviews here in northern California. I regulary hear showmanship and auxiliary judges comment on the appropriateness on the routine not fitting the music, and I as a marching judge talk about out of step/phasing, poor intervals, dressing the formation and maintianing a straight line while doing gates and wheel turns, and (at least for me) it affects the bands score. If the auxiliary group is doing wild stuff, and the bands start loosing because of it, I'm sure the director will have a word or two to their staff.

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 Post subject: Re: Fairfield Tournament of Champions Results
PostPosted: Fri Nov 22, 2013 10:43 am 
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Is what you are talking about even on the sheets? (seriously I'm asking as I only use the drum sheets)

And while I totally get where everyone is coming from, it seems counter-productive to spend time learning 2 different styles while expecting them both to be achieved with a high level of excellence. Especially in this day-in-age where kids do EVERYTHING and we try to limit the amount of time spent rehearsing. (smarter not harder right?)


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 Post subject: Re: Fairfield Tournament of Champions Results
PostPosted: Fri Nov 22, 2013 11:19 am 
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I don't mean any disrespect to current bands, but that performance by Solano Junior High in 1994 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Abkz3xY8Edk) could absolutely go toe to toe with any High School marching band in NCBA today. I don't think it's fair to downplay the hard work that those kids put into their performance just because it was from the mid-90s. They used the exact same instruments, ID shields, flags, rifles, and parade music that bands still use today.

Solano Junior High was the pride of Roxanna Macheel before she went on to teach at Benicia High, and Solano's colorguard was supported by some of the same staff who worked with the Fairfield High Scarlet Brigade, so I think that they're a shining example of what could be accomplished on the street. A great performance is timeless and that band's hard work is still very impressive looking back today.


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 Post subject: Re: Fairfield Tournament of Champions Results
PostPosted: Fri Nov 22, 2013 1:03 pm 
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Honestly the change in guard programs shifted when they changed the sheets to auxiliary and got rid of the separate groups. Groups were in their prime when they had a chance to win Rifle, flags, or ID.


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 Post subject: Re: Fairfield Tournament of Champions Results
PostPosted: Fri Nov 22, 2013 2:15 pm 
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[quote="8-ball"]Is what you are talking about even on the sheets? (seriously I'm asking as I only use the drum sheets)

Sure, on the marching sheet, while we don't have a sub-caption that says aux (except in the exposure to error, where we look at the difficulty of routine) we look at lines, diagonals, instep/phasing, equipment angles, uniformity. All these are applied to everyone I can see. Showmanship talks about the musicality of the equipment work as well.

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 Post subject: Re: Fairfield Tournament of Champions Results
PostPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 5:56 am 
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I have been watching this discussion with some interest. Good points on both side but since a lot of folks have been giving their 2 cents I'll give mine.

I always thought of myself as an "inovator" in the band world. I got into DEEP sh*t in So Cal at the start of my career because I had flags that twirled and rifles that tossed. I was the ONLY band doing that in the early 70's. Boy did the SCSBOA dump on me. The 'tradition' at the time was an attached banner, a band block, maybe a twirler, and a huge drill team.

I always found drill teams to be boring. Just a personal thing. I also thought that visually I would get more cluck for my buck with tall flags and rifles. I still do.

I used to tell my visual staff that once you start "marking time" with drill and equipment design you start getting "behind" because others would keep advancing the art form and we would get stale. It really did upset some of the 'older' folks in NCBA and I was even accused of writing the score sheets to favor my guard units. Pretty funny comment since the score sheets that were used at the time were designed by a committee of visual instructors and then APPROVED by the NCBA membership. Now I'm honored that some folks thought I had that much power but in truth I really wanted nothing to do with designing guard sheets.

I also want to agree with Louise Jacob. I think the change from individual groups like ID units, Tall Flags and Rifles to one overall score sheet was a big mistake. What I see now on the street if very few bands with an ID unit and all of the guard groups seem to be shrinking in size. I am in LOVE with what Armijo High School is doing because it's more "showy" than just doing military style drills.

The reference to Solano Junior HIgh with Roxanna Macheel is well noted. Her guard was awesome. Her instructors were from my band at Fairfield High School. Roxanna and I were very close. I let her use my guard instructors and her FOUR children were in the Scarlet Brigade including one of my best drum majors.

Bring the pageantry on...make it an audience pleaser...but don't expect much of an evaluation here in Northern California as the judges that are used for captions like showmanship wouldn't know a jazz run from a hot rock. NCBA just simply isn't training their judges which is why you will see at almost every band review competition one band getting showmanship sweepstakes and another band winning the auxiliary sweepstakes. The two sets of judges just aren't lookinig at the same things.

Russ Campbell
Fairfield High School Scarlet Brigade Band
1984-2002

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 Post subject: Re: Fairfield Tournament of Champions Results
PostPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 11:31 am 
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clarinetking wrote:
NCBA just simply isn't training their judges

I would like to add this caveat: the NCBA also has a huge problem with old-school judges who don't WANT new training. They have been slowly weeding them out, but getting new band directors to step up and become judges is also challenging.


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 Post subject: Re: Fairfield Tournament of Champions Results
PostPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 5:45 pm 
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Hey big Hos...

BINGO!!!!!! couldn't have said that better myself. The young directors are deathly afraid of the old guard because the old guard has given themselves lifetime appointments on the board. You don't want to piss them off because I gurantee that they will be judging you the next time you are out because only the 'good ole boys' get judging assignments and they are making a TON of money doing it. NCBA is shameful. It won't change until the old guard dies.

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 Post subject: Re: Fairfield Tournament of Champions Results
PostPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 6:12 pm 
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Them's some pretty strong words cowboy.


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 Post subject: Re: Fairfield Tournament of Champions Results
PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 8:31 am 
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Jim. I am a founder of NCBA but I now wish I had never done that. I'm ashamed of what they have become. Strong words? You bet. But I'll bet you will find a TON of current band directors in Nor Cal that agree. They can't act to change because the board controls all the voting. The board re-elects themselves and controls all the votes on any issue. The association is run by 4 people. Even their own area chairpersons are not allowed to do anything. It's too bad. They got off to a good start back in the 90's but it's not good now.

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 Post subject: Re: Fairfield Tournament of Champions Results
PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 12:47 pm 
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Again, my posts aren't meant to offend any current NCBA bands but I'm just genuinely concerned about the overall drop in quality in the circuit. It seems as though the people in charge of the activity aren't holding competing units to the standard of excellence set by prior generations and that's what bothers me the most.

This isn't about new vs. old school, this is about maintaining a standard of excellence and supporting the students so they have the chance to perform to the best of their abilities. Well-played music sounds the same whether it's played today, a year ago, a decade ago, or 20 years ago. The same can be said for good marching or good visual presentation from a colorguard. As a general rule for marching band, everyone involved should know what good music sounds like and what good marching looks like. The standards should not be lowered over the years. I come from a previous generation that always strived to play good music, focusing on proper intonation, balance, blend, articulations, etc. so it's shocking to hear some bands out there sounding the way that they do. They're playing the same instruments and same marches that my generation played... Still spinning the same colorguard equipment and still marching down the same streets... I assume the bands are still practicing after school several days a week just like my generation did... So what happened? There seems to be a lack of excellence instilled in the groups, put very bluntly.

I see circuits like SCSBOA and their bands look and sound consistently great year after year, decade after decade. Then I watch NCBA parade and the groups are all over the place. Even some top scoring high school bands are riddled with obvious technical issues that my old junior high band director would scoff at. NCBA needs to do more work to make sure that bands start being more polished again. If that means scoring more harshly, then maybe they need to start doing that. Set the bar higher so these groups practice better and at a higher level. Maybe they need to start holding Parade Clinics again to get everyone back on the same page, show these guard instructors how to stage the pageantry correctly and work better with the equipment (NCBA used to have the best ID shield routines and now they're a mess). These bands are forgetting all about proper poise and performance, colorguards are noticeably sloppier and poorly staged, directors are allowing their students to settle for 'good enough', and too few bands are striving for musical excellence. NCBA needs to pull the reigns back in and create a more structured environment for everyone. Demand more from the bands and help them be great. Stop allowing sloppiness and instill more discipline in the units.

If this is all due to slacking off by the NCBA board, then shame on them. The difference between now and previous years is almost like night and day. NCBA bands from the 90s were on a totally different level compared to today's bands (keep in mind still playing the same instruments, same music, spinning the same equipment...) and it's unfair to the students that they're suffering due to poor support from the people running the activity.


Last edited by Chrome12 on Tue Nov 26, 2013 12:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Fairfield Tournament of Champions Results
PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 6:32 pm 
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Chrome12 wrote:
They're playing the same instruments and same marches that my generation played on the street... Still spinning the same colorguard equipment and still marching down the same streets... So what happened?

A whole bunch of things, but if you want #1 on my list it's this: K-8 music education in northern California has pretty much gone the way of the dodo. In the 80s and 90s NorCal had DOZENS of very good middle school and junior high marching programs. In the 2010s NorCal has only a couple dozen middle schools that even have a marching program at all.

Not to say K-8 music education hasn't taken a hit in SoCal, too, but overall it is much, much stronger down here. The bands in NorCal can't keep up the quality when a bunch of kids in every parade block picked up their instrument literally for the first time ever just a few months prior.


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 Post subject: Re: Fairfield Tournament of Champions Results
PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 9:15 am 
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Hostrauser is painfully accurate. Music Education has taken dozens of hits over the last several decades, starting in the 70's. However this last decade had new challenges. With the push of NCLB, the economy and more, elementary and MS band programs are suffering.

A MS/Elem feeder is the core of a HS program, if that is not there the HS suffers dramatically.

Take my band, last year the MS "advanced" band had 12 in it. There were 3 8th graders, yet I got 7 in my HS band. In addition there were other grade level students that started band this year. There is a ton of training that needs to happen to get them anywhere near the HS level. This will affect the groups ability to achieve at that level from "back in the day" that you are talking about. I will take any kids willing to work and learn regardless of experience. However, if there were more kids trained that were coming up, we could do more. Another example is my trombone section, none of them played in MS, they are all converts. Three of them have been playing another instrument since MS, and two of them started band as sophomores, 4 out of the five started trombone this year. This is typical for my program.

I don't make excuses for them. I tell them we have to be good, that they have to work hard to make up for their lack of experience. We can't walk down the street or into the football game or into the concert hall and make excuses and tell the audience all the reasons they are behind. They must do the work to sound good, sometimes their lack of experience shows, sometimes it doesn't.

So yes, bands are not the same today. They can't be. And add me to the list of people that like the innovation in guard. Keep it interesting, keep me guessing.


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 Post subject: Re: Fairfield Tournament of Champions Results
PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 9:37 am 
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Chrome12

It seems your criticism is more about what the auxiliaries are doing, and not how their doing it. Though I too have been a little disapointed in the over all marching by NCBA bands this year (and if check the recaps, overall scores in the marching caption have been lower, with many marching sweepstakes for score of 185, instead of in the 190's of earlier years) the inclussion of more advanced methods and technique for the auxiaries has been interesting. Take mind of this, since the whole purpose of this is to educate, which is a better method, to look at the auxiliaries in a year long scope, from fall band reviews, to winter guard? Or treat as separate with little overlap except waving a flag. There's not much career possibilities in marching in a staight linewaving a flag, but layer in dance methods and technique, and carry through that training program in the winter guard, then we have a background in dance, which has some very good career opportunities. As educators, we do need to think of our students (all of them, not just the musicians) and what they plan to do with their life, even if we sacrifice a little excellence to get there.

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 Post subject: Re: Fairfield Tournament of Champions Results
PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 11:38 am 
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My problem with current parade guards is this - most have lost touch with marching basics, equipment basics and staging basics, things that were refined to perfection in previous generations.

I wouldn't be complaining about parade routines that incorporate a lot of dance and body movement if many guards were doing it well. The fact is though that only a select few parade guards can pull off this style. The rest of the guards are a mess, with simple routines that are still performed very poorly. That's a big red flag to me. I saw a flag line at ToC with about a dozen people and it looked like they were each doing their own thing. Feet and flags were never together, I actually thought that they were going for a ripple effect throughout the entire performance. An absolute mess.

Back when I marched, colorguards used marching band to work on foundational basics like marching in time, performing in unison, proper hands, feet, equipment angles and things like that. The goal was to perform as a UNIT. Winterguard season was when things loosened up a bit, but for marching season it was all about precision, proper spacing, proper equipment carriage, and making a visual impact on the street as a solid unit.

I see guards out there today not only with messy routines but with poor staging as well. ID shields are obscured or not even readable to the audience, people are marching to their own beat, drill is overly busy and unreadable, people running around trying to get to the next formation, and it just looks like a free for all, very unprofessional. The lack of structure in today's routines is very apparent and this disregard of proper staging snowballs year after year.

Marching in a straight line waving a flag isn't as easy as it sounds. If it were then we'd see much more impressive performances out there today.


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