Fairfield Tournament of Champions Results

Topics and polls that cover the overall marching band activity

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Re: Fairfield Tournament of Champions Results

Post by 8-ball » Tue Nov 26, 2013 12:26 pm

Well get out there and do some clinics Chrome! Or train up some people who can! :idea:

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Re: Fairfield Tournament of Champions Results

Post by Zero » Tue Nov 26, 2013 1:23 pm

Chrome12 wrote:I honestly feel as though NCBA needs to return to a more militarized style of colorguard on the street. There's way too much dancing and leaping in these modern colorguard routines. And not enough technical excellence of the equipment. I was looking for a squad with sharp shields, rifles, and clean flags, but I couldn't really find a standout group.
Chrome12 wrote: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.
You see, I call this a contradiction. Which is it? Do we need to return to a more militarized style? Or do we need to have stronger training programs?
Brad wrote: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.
I appreciate an answer like this one. Thinking of guard in the long term, it is more than just a fall season. It's more than just parade. Many bands participate in multiple events, including field shows, winter programs and what not. To think in the long term, it would be much more practical and consistent to teach a style, technique and foundation that will be used across the board, throughout the school year, rather than having to shift gears from one season to the next in terms of performance style. While I do praise and respect the styles of old, the activity has grown in a unique way over the past couple of years and it's not only technically harder to achieve, but entertaining to watch and/or perform in a new sense. While parade is not evaluated on the same rules and expectations internationally, the guard scene does have an international platform in which the current trend of work is flourishing and evolving year after year. It's only natural that it translates into something like the street.

There is a trade off, however, and that is necessity of a strong instructional staff and the introduction of a well-balanced training program. Not only that, but the need for this to start at an early age is vital. Absolutely vital! Nowadays, the high school programs that do have technically sound and impressive shows are programs that are still lucky enough to have middle school feeders. Also the lack of training for new instructors as they transition from performer to educator is an issue. While there is a lot of new blood, there isn't a source of education for those instructors to grow. It could be said that we have an adjudication committee that seeks to educate and spread the ideology of the circuit and foundation of guard in general to each and every instructor within said circuit, but very, very rarely do I see judges sit down with instructors and discuss the implications and importance of specific nuances and choices in how they lead their various programs. To be quite honest, if you take note, the current guard programs with dynamic and technically strong performances on the street and even in the winter season are led by those specific judges on the panel. Who would have thought that?
8-ball wrote:Well get out there and do some clinics Chrome! Or train up some people who can! :idea:
Yeah, I agree. I would love to come and sit in on something like this. It would be quite interesting, to say the least.
That depends on your definition of "Logic".

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Re: Fairfield Tournament of Champions Results

Post by Chrome12 » Tue Nov 26, 2013 1:58 pm

8-ball wrote:Well get out there and do some clinics Chrome! Or train up some people who can! :idea:
If only I was internally involved with NCBA, I'd definitely work on that :lol:
Zero wrote:Which is it? Do we need to return to a more militarized style? Or do we need to have stronger training programs?
Both! These parade guards can't run before they learn to crawl. Basics like marching, holding the equipment correctly, performing in precise unison, maintaining proper spacing, etc. should be the first things guard students learn. This is marching band, not interpretive dance class. Save all the excess for winter season and make sure that your group is foundationally sound first. Can they spin in unison? Can they stay in step throughout the entire performance? Those details are so very important in the parade environment. If these groups can't even stay in step to the band's music, then what's the point?

Here's a list of some impressive parade performances from the 90s NCBA. You can really tell the difference in structured staging from then to now. And just notice how poised all of these bands were.

Junior High/Middle School:

1992 Solano Junior High 'Make Way for Melody'

1994 Solano Junior High 'Glorious Victory'

1995 Solano Junior High 'Arromanches'

1997 Dover Middle 'General Mitchell'

1997 Sullivan Middle 'The Washington Post'

High Schools:

1992 Fairfield High 'The Great Little Army'

1992 Merced High 'The Big Red Machine'

1997 Hogan High 'Eagle Squadron'

1998 Vallejo High 'Onward'

1998 Fairfield High 'Arromanches'

1999 Fairfield High 'Carry On'

2000 Fairfield High 'Farewell to a Slavic Woman'

2000 Lincoln High 'The Purple Carnival'

2001 Fairfield High 'In Storm and Sunshine'

2001 Benicia High 'Unter Der Admirals Flagge'

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Re: Fairfield Tournament of Champions Results

Post by Hostrauser » Tue Nov 26, 2013 2:29 pm

Weezie Jay wrote: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.
Chrome12 wrote:1998 Vallejo High 'Onward'
The problem, though, was that as cuts dug deeper and numbers dwindled, some directors chose to "game the system." I've singled out Vallejo (sorry) because (1) there's video proof right here, and (2) they were one of the first to do so, and it still bugs me 15 years later.

In the last years of the separate flags/id/rifles parade captions you needed at least three members to qualify for an award in any auxiliary group. So if you had only 10 or 12 girls in your guard, instead of going for a really clean 10-member flag corps, band directors and guard instructors started taking their strongest 9 performers and putting the bare minimum in each group: 3 flags, 3 shields, 3 rifles. And remainders were shoved in the back of the block with banners.

Naturally, with only three strong performers in each section, you could write very difficult routines and get them stupid clean. More and more bands started adopting this concept. 21 girls in your guard? 3-5 ID, 3 rifles, 3-5 flags, and a row of banners in the back of the block. With the exception of Fairfield and Lincoln (Golden Valley I believe was still field-only in the late 90s), if you had more than four or five girls in an aux section you simply didn't stand a chance of placing in the Top 5.

I don't think this was the MAIN impetus for the move to just one "parade auxiliary" caption, but I do think it was a contributing factor (maybe even the proverbial camel-injuring piece of straw).

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Re: Fairfield Tournament of Champions Results

Post by 8-ball » Tue Nov 26, 2013 2:29 pm

If only I was internally involved with NCBA, I'd definitely work on that :lol:
Since when do you have to be involved with NCBA to give a clinic to schools or train up instructors?

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Re: Fairfield Tournament of Champions Results

Post by clarinetking » Tue Nov 26, 2013 6:33 pm

THANK YOU MR. 8-BALL :wink: In fact you are better off without NCBA in doing a clinic. I'm game if the rest of you are.
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Re: Fairfield Tournament of Champions Results

Post by guardthepiccolo » Tue Nov 26, 2013 8:22 pm

Ooooh I haven't gotten to read one of these fun arguments in a few years!
Weezie, Russ, and Zero hit it on the head.

Style is SUBJECTIVE. Stick to whatever style you want, but back it up with training. Personally, I like a mix of modernization with a touch of the sharper, more traditional choreography. But in 10 years, I'll probably feel 100% different about that. Because as we evolve as a culture, so does our product. There is an infinite number of ways to interpret music visually, so stifling creativity to maintain a certain style that was great for what it was in the past, is irrelevant.The execution still needs to be present, however. That is something that has been missing on the street with both band and guard over the past 5-9 years. Though is it really that different? I think we're missing the really well-executed routines that usually come from the top groups. But the average quality from a majority of performing groups on the street in NorCal has been less-than-stellar for a LONG time. Houstrauser had great points on the "why."

The group I work with has absolutely no feeder program for band or guard. Band kids start as freshmen, brand new, no musical experience, and the guard starts sophomore year, and rehearsal time is incredibly limited as we combine 3 different schools to make one guard. The band is one of the better-sounding groups out there this year IMO, which speaks volumes to the director, considering the lack of experienced musicians. It really depends on what standards the educators choose to hold their group to, and if they are actually equipped(both in their own knowledge and in their resources) to help their students achieve said standards.
It would be great if there were more training programs for younger instructors! The problem is, the younger instructors have nobody to learn from. The more talented designers and educators out there stay clear from the NCBA groups due to its...well all of the reasons Russ mentioned. I would probably fall on my face if I saw somebody with a reputation like Scott Chandler or George Oliviero judging a parade competition. A "not-so-circuit" full of egos and people who won't change their ways for the obvious improvement of the member groups is not something that many people wish to be associated with. There are a select few people I VERY MUCH respect as judges and educators in NCBA, but it's a little bizarre to go into a competition knowing the inconsistencies and lack of useful, educational comments from all captions. How am I to take the "competitions" seriously when it's a crap shoot. I love having to warn my kids about that before a show :yeah: :roll: . Shouldn't they be able to TRUST that they are being critiqued by the best of the best? Especially since the NCBA costs SO much money compared to other, more competitive circuits(at least in winterguard). That being said, this was the most consistent season, auxiliary-wise, that I've ever participated in. And I know that there has been some work done to make that happen, so thanks to the people who do. I haven't signed on board to be a part of the judging/administrative community, because I have hesitations based on my 15 year history with the NCBA as a performer and instructor. But maybe it's time to give back.
I think people want change, and if there were another circuit to offer parade competitions, with better organization and leadership, people would flock to it very quickly. Sooo...who's ready to start it with me?! :viking: :viking: :nenr:
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Re: Fairfield Tournament of Champions Results

Post by 8-ball » Wed Nov 27, 2013 7:12 am

clarinetking wrote:THANK YOU MR. 8-BALL :wink: In fact you are better off without NCBA in doing a clinic. I'm game if the rest of you are.
I'm always available and interested 8-)

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Re: Fairfield Tournament of Champions Results

Post by ReadyFront99 » Thu Jan 30, 2014 3:07 pm

Wow, what a discussion here! I signed up just to put my 2 cents in, so here goes.

I spun back in the 90s with a top parade guard that's been mentioned here, and I, too, have noticed how different NCBA has become. I can't speak on anything but pageantry because that's my background, but things are definitely different. I don't know where exactly to begin, but I'll try to do this systematically.

Now I'm not here to preach, but I just want to pass along some knowledge and tips that our instructors gave to us. I encourage current instructors and guard members to read this and maybe apply it to future performances. From what I've seen, today's groups just need the right guidance and thoughtful design to bring back the glory days of NCBA parade guards. It really doesn't take much to create a wonderful routine of flags, rifles, and ID shields. It's literally an art form and should be treated as such, carefully constructed with great attention to detail.

FLAGS - All units need to remember to hold the flags correctly, with proper grips, hand placements along the pole, and pay close attention to how the silk moves at all times. Try to avoid sails. You are showing off those beautiful flags so you don't want the silk caught in the pole. More advanced groups should focus on flag "stroke" timing, paying attention to slow motions versus fast, flowing through counts versus "hitting" them. Are your drop spins supposed to be continuous or separated? Always pay attention to correct angles and spinning in the correct "plane".

During tosses, make sure everyone's hands are at the same locations on the pole, and make sure your downward pushing arm is in proper form, parallel to the ground, elbow out. Tape guides on practice flags if you need a reminder on where to grip. Toss with confidence, watch those free hands and don't shuffle around underneath the equipment. If it's a standing toss, make sure your feet are firmly planted at a 45 and stay together thru to the catch. If it's a marching toss, toss outward so that the flag meets you at the end of your stride. Flags are the "frame" of the group and should focus on unison, unison, unison! Remember, even if just one person is off, it ruins the whole performance. Flags are the most visible element of your unit and should therefore be the cleanest. A clean flag line is undeniable.

RIFLES - All units need to remember proper rifle carriage. For marching band, this means paying attention to angles and hand placements on the rifle. All tosses should have the same rate of rotation, height, and be caught with a satisfying "snap". Aim for a perfect catch because rifle work is very audible to the audience and a solid group catch is always a crowd (and judge) pleaser. Work on timing so that rifles are spinning together and in phase. Instructors should write routines with several "checkpoints" that make rifle work easier to clean. Implement basic angles/poses in these areas and clean it up. A rifle can be heavy to work with but don't let the equipment move your body around. Keep your body erect and make it look effortless.

IDs - This is the area I feel needs most work in NCBA today. ID lines are supposed to be the centerpiece of marching pageantry and set the tone for the entire ensemble. To that effect, ID lines need to be sharp, sharp, sharp! Keep spacing between letters consistent and a person's width apart. You do not want your letters spread out across the competition zone because it looks amateurish. Letters should be spaced as closely as possible while still allowing room for shield work. You do not want to be shoulder to shoulder, but keep gaps at a minimum. Remember, you're spelling out your unit's name for the audience so make it easy for them to see the letters.

Focus on proper carriage, keeping the letters at the same default height and facing straight forward, NOT tilted upwards or downwards or left or right. Don't be shaky with the ID shield because it's very noticeable to the audience. You are holding a letter in formation and should always remember to carry it with pride and purpose. Above all, practice quick, swift movements and snap those letters. Don't let the weight of the equipment wear you down and overtake you. Perform like you own that letter.

ID routines were very popular back in my day and so fun to watch. There's so much you can do with an ID line. For starters, you can do A/B work, side ripples, center ripples, basic arches, curved arches, or more custom formations. Whatever the case, the letters should always stay in formation in front of the pageantry block. You don't want your letters to break connection with the audience, so keep body and drill movement fairly straightforward to be able to present a solid line to the audience. The letters should be the focus of the routine, body movement comes second.

8 counts work well for IDs and allow for interesting routines that change with the music. Listen to the march and how it's broken up into sections, and write routines accordingly. Treat each musical phrase as a chance to write a corresponding visual phrase with the shields. Major hit in the music? Make a major formation with the shields. Thumping grandioso section? Complement this with complex A/B shield work hitting each count. Anything is possible, but always trive for a visual interpretation of the march.

GENERAL NOTE TO INSTRUCTORS: I might get crucified for saying this, but here goes: You need to put more effort into pageantry parade design. My instructors utilized a "layered" approach that looked visually pleasing. IDs in front, rifles next, then flags in back of the pageantry block. Each section has their own separate work, but are tied together throughout the routine by common flourishes, common footwork, and group statements. Every individual has their own special place in the unit and must perform accordingly, otherwise the entire package falls apart.

Do not be afraid to pick apart your guard to get details perfected. The guard I marched with didn't wake up great, we worked our butts off to get there, and it was because our instructors weren't shy to call us out when we weren't doing good enough. Demand excellence from your group and they will give it to you.

When teaching drill and dance movement, pay extra attention to those feet. Sloppy feet are a major no no and can also drag down the band's overall score. You want your pageantry block to perform a clean routine, not tripping over their feet, so don't write dance movement and drill sets that can confuse and trip them up. Write dance that makes sense and never overdo it. Remember that a well-written routine takes complete notice of staying in step throughout. Dance movements should always take this into consideration and be written to make sure that the pageantry stays in step. Similarly, leaps should be in unison and mindful of landing back into the correct marching step. Ideally, you want each count of the routine to be almost set in stone. This way, everyone knows exactly where they should be and how their feet should be positioned at any particular point.

Most of a parade routine should comprise of basic marching, with occasional dance throughout, not the other way around. Anytime your pageantry is moving, they should be doing so on the correct foot. Walking or shuffling around at individual paces should be avoided at all costs because it looks very unprofessional. Keep your guard mindful of whether they should be on their left foot or right foot. This little detail can make the difference between a "good" guard and a "great" guard.

Always practice with an emphasis on marching in place to the music so everyone gets a handle on staying in proper step and call out anyone who falls out of phase.

When performing in front of the judge's stand, treat this as a chance to shine and make sure the guard's focus is 100% on the judges and that they're selling the routine. As the pageantry makes way for the band block, have them chasse away gracefully with flowing arms, and don't forget to point those toes!

One day, try marching your entire guard in block formation, straight forward to a very basic but clean flag routine and you will see how wonderful this can look. As the group gets more comfortable performing in this fashion, try adding flourishes and dance movements in between the marching steps, making sure their feet stay together and the block's formation stays consistent. They should be able to transition from marching, into performing a dance combo, back into marching again, all while staying in step. Add tosses next. This is how you build confidence and proper teamwork within a parade guard, and how you teach them how to march while spinning. Start from the bottom and work your way up. They should be able to perform a parade routine with no equipment at all and demonstrate complete understanding of the footwork and movement drill. Remember, clean footwork is just as important as clean equipment work. A truly great parade guard is one that demonstrates both equipment and footwork excellence.

Another fun exercise is exploring all the different ways you can arrange the guard in extravagant standing presentations, where each member of the pageantry is posed to create a group formation. This could be as simple as arranging flags in back in an extended arch formation, having your rifles in front presenting the equipment on one knee, while IDs take center stage in a tight formation. Or maybe you want your rifles arched and flags on knee. The possibilities are endless with parade equipment but if you're lucky enough to have a full pageantry block, you can create some truly amazing presentations. Look at it as art!

GENERAL NOTE TO PAGEANTRY: Remember that you are very much part of the marching band as a tuba player and should be marching the same way. The only difference is instead of playing an instrument, you're spinning colorguard equipment. Glide step and remain in proper attention from start to finish of the performance. Left, right, left, right. If the march confuses you, ask for a copy of the music and practice marching in place to it until you get it right.

Keep aware of your section at all times and use peripheral vision to stay together and keep correct formation. Drops happen but don't show disappointment on your face. Pick up the equipment as if nothing ever went wrong and carry on with the routine.

In competition, do not look around at the audience for your friends and family. You should all be looking in the same direction with the same focus. Smile! There's potential in any group, but true success starts with after school practices. Work on performance and it will fall into place. Treat every run through seriously and strive for personal perfection. There's nothing like performing alongside your friends and knowing you all gave a great show. Always work as a team and remember to play your part!

I really hope this helps. If anyone has any questions, just ask. I may write a more detailed discussion for instructors on how to write more effective shows. I believe that there is a proper method to parade pageantry design and it needs to be brought back to attention.

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