Color guard, percussion compete in indoor competition season

Emily Nash

Aside from performing on the football field, the percussion and the color guard compete in two indoor competitions hosted by the Texas Color Guard Circuit: the Winter Guard International (WGI) and the Texas Color Guard Championships (TCGC) during the spring semester. After months of practice and dedication, the color guard competed in TCGC on March 29, and indoor percussion will compete on April 5 at Reed Arena.

Color Guard

For the color guard, post football season means signifies the entry into Winter Guard season. With a total of 27 members this year, the color guard added a junior varsity team, and every member is required to re-audition for the indoor competitive season to determine which team they will compete with.

With only a varsity team in the past the color guard took their place as state champions in their respective class in 2008 and 2010, and in 2012 made it to finals in the World Championship Competition in Dayton, Ohio.

“We advanced our first time going [to the World Championship Competition], which was a really awesome experience for the guard,” color guard director Marie DeBellis said.

This year, their competitions began in January, and DeBellis said that both teams have been successful so far this season. The varsity team is currently undefeated as they have the highest WGI regional score in the country, and the JV team, this being their first year in existence, are also first in the scholastic JV class.

“We’re consistent regional finalists,” DeBellis said. “This year has by far been our most successful year.”

DeBellis said that the way a show is choreographed is a large component in having a successful performance.

“The people that we brought in to design and choreograph our program were really strong and worked well together with the kids,” DeBellis said.

The JV team’s show is to Phillip Phillips’ song “Home,” and each member is dressed up as a bird and the team, throughout the performance, builds a nest with real tree branches. The varsity team will perform in black attire to a classical piece called “Experience” which DeBellis said has no particular theme.

“Each performer on the floor has their own experience performing [their routine], so that’s kind of the direction we went with [the performances],” DeBellis said.

Senior Jameisha Hall said that in order to perfect their show, members must dedicate a significant amount of time to rehearsals.

“We practice three times a week, and on competition days, we practice for an hour that Saturday before the competition,” Hall said.

The hard work pays off, however, and both DeBellis and Hall agree that having a good performance at a competition makes all dedication and time spent worth it.

“I really enjoy seeing the kids come off the floor after a great performance,” DeBellis said. “The smiles on their faces, and the excitement – and that’s even before we find out our placement,”

Anyone is welcome to audition for color guard. Tryouts for the 2014-2015 school year will be held from April 28 to May 2 in Gym 3.

Indoor Percussion

Like the color guard, the percussion group begins preparing for indoor competition season directly following football season. Parallel to the color guard, they have exactly 27 members: 26 performers and a sound system operator. This year being their second consecutive year competing, the team placed first at WGI regionals in March, and is now preparing for TCGC in April.

Percussion director Zane Taylor said that because of the significant number of students interested in doing indoor percussion again, they decided to step it up this year.

“This year we went into [indoor percussion] with the intent of making it much more challenging, and they’re doing very well,” Taylor said. “What we want to do is to try to build a tradition; that’s our hope.”

Like the color guard, the drumline intensely focuses on their general effect – in other words, how well the group connects with the audience. Indoor percussion has a storyline to their performance, which includes playing the music, a little acting, and uniformed costumes. Their show this year is called “Uncovered,” which is about two characters who tries to fight against a malevolent force, and it is split in three different parts.

“Since it’s a smaller group and a smaller venue there’s a much better opportunity to actually connect with the audience,” Taylor said. “They try to capitalize on that [aspect] and the judges score you on that too.”

Because indoor percussion is a significantly smaller group that excludes wind instruments, indoor percussion competitions are judged much more intensely as opposed to the way the percussion is judged in retrospect with the rest of the band during marching season.

“If you mess up [on the marching field] it’s not as noticeable as it is in indoor drumline,” senior and snare drummer Sandy Schwalen said. “We have 20 people performing as opposed to the 150 that you would have in a marching band, so you have to be cleaner and better [in indoor percussion].”

Sophomore and synthesize player Tommy Schwalen said for those who don’t march and stay in the front ensemble that it’s nice to have the spectators appreciate the harder music they play.

“It’s [nice] to show off our capabilities as percussionists,” Schwalen said.

Along with musical maturity that comes with six hours a week of school rehearsal outside of school, Taylor said that he’s seen his students grow in mental and physical fortitude.

“There’s a great deal of emotional – and I would almost say spiritual – growth that comes with that to actually happen,” Taylor said.

Like the color guard, anyone is welcome to try out for indoor percussion. Tryouts will be held in the middle to end of November, depending on when football season ends.