Competition & Attendance

Parents,

This Saturday in Tifton, Westover will be performing in it's first competition in over a decade. Some of you might remember the Blackshear marching festival from 2012 and 2013 with Mr. Scanling and say that we competed then, but we did not. We only participated in the festival portion of that contest. In festival performance, you are given a rating (superior, excellent, etc.) in a few areas, and you go home. Competition is graded on a 0-100 scale in all those areas, and there are trophies for best color guard, percussion, drum major, and band in each class, as well as best overall in at least the band category. Our first showing needs to be a good one, as I'm sure there are people already expecting a mediocre performance from us.

Since July 5th, what we have been working on as a band is to get ready for this competition. It's all I have talked about with the kids for at least a month and a half. This is by far the single most important performance of the season for our marching band. It legitimizes us as a band in our own right, and makes us more than just an add-on to the football team. In fact, the way I look at it, halftime at football games is merely our way of having dress rehearsals for our competition show. In Tifton, we will go from performing in front of people who would just as soon go get nachos while we perform or wish that we would just put the instruments down and dance to an audience of BAND PEOPLE and judges with doctorate degrees in music and decades of experience scrutinizing our performance. It will be the first time our show will be filmed without football fans talking and yelling over our performance and everything can be heard. I have been staying late at school (last night til about 11), getting other departments (art and drama) involved to add to the theatrical aspect of our show, and spending money on props to put us over the top for this event. The Band Boosters have put out $600 for us to be in this show. As long as we show up and perform, we will get $500 of it back. But if we had to cancel for absences, we would lose that money. This -- competing -- will be our focus as a marching band for as long as I am Band Director at Westover.

Suddenly, I am getting students casually telling me "I might not be here Saturday". In fact, three just now in the drumline alone. This is ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE. In the case of bass drummers, no one else in the band has their part, and they all work together as one. You may as well send trumpets out there and take away their first valve. As Mr. Scanling used to say, "marching band needs all of its members all of the time." The handbook for this year has a form for unexcused absence, and states that it must be turned in at least 10 days ahead of the conflict. I have to enforce consequences for the seriousness of these flippant and late absences. Most of it probably stems from these students not communicating with parents until the last minute.

If I have not communicated with a parent regarding absence from this competition, I will be sitting these students down for our remaining performances. If the band can survive without someone at a BAND COMPETITION, it can certainly survive with them at a parade or a homecoming game where many people are paying scant attention to the precision of what is being played.

Thank you, and feel free to contact me with any concerns.

Jason R. High
Band Director,
Westover High School
www.westoverband.org
jason.high@docoschools.org