- Associated Press - Monday, September 25, 2017

ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) - When football players trot off the field at halftime, it’s the Central High School marching band’s moment to shine.

The music plays and the band marches aptly around the field, creating patterns without missing a note, the Aberdeen News reported .

The formations on the field start as a map created on a computer program called Pyware, said Jeremy Schutter, director.

“We’ve probably been using it a half-dozen years or so now,” he said.

Each student gets her or his own marker, each instrument represented by a different letter or symbol, Schutter said. Not only do the formations need to look impressive, the music needs to sound good, meaning the placement of sections needs to be planned with purpose.

“If you have a strong trumpet section and maybe you have a weaker clarinet section or your brass is stronger than your woodwinds, (you need to take that into consideration because) you’re staging on the field has to be predetermined before you are even mapping out on the field there,” he said.

The program creates maps and an animation of what the performance will look like with music, Schutter said. The students maybe watch it once or twice, but giving them printed out maps of the show has proven to be the best method.

“Every student gets a copy of what their sets are,” Schutter said. “We’re probably burning through six to 10 reams of paper.”

A ream has 500 sheets.

Each musician is assigned a position that can be tracked on the maps.

“The advantage of giving each student a copy of the printout this way is they visually get to see what the form looks like,” Schutter said.

The band’s field show is an arrangement of three originally composed numbers put together around a central theme, he said. The show and music aren’t composed specifically for Central, but the company the school orders from guarantees that no other schools within 100 miles or so will use the same arrangement.

But because their marching competitions are so spread out - Marshall, Minn.; Brandon; Sioux Falls and Vermillion - Central vies against schools outside of that range. Still it’s rare that another school would use the exact same arrangement, Schutter said.

The band spends the Monday after Friday night marches the same way many football teams do - watching video and reviewing performances.

“We pull that animation back out and ask the kids, ‘We just talked about problem XYZ, now watch how that’s being handled in the computer animation,’” Schutter said. “We should be able to do it, we should be able to come across as technically perfect.”

The first game at which the band played was Aug. 25. Its first marching competition is Sept. 23.

“During the game, we are there to really promote school and event pride,” Schutter said. “I try to imitate what the big college bands are doing in their stands, sometimes a little bit too much.”

Playing for games is much more fun than marching in parades, said tuba players Justin Desens, junior, and Trenton Kehrwald, sophomore.

“Marching during a parade, you get to do that in eighth grade,” Kehrwald said.

The band has gotten in trouble from game officials for playing too close to the snap, Schutter said.

Parade strategy for the marching band is a little different, he said. Many area bands play pop songs, so the Central band goes with a patriotic number.

“They’re usually a crowd-pleaser, the kids don’t mind playing them and sometimes we can take those particular numbers and use them at different places such as our Veterans Day ceremony,” Schutter said. “We look to get a little bit more mileage out of what we play.”

The students still get to play pop songs as members of the pep band, he said.

Marching band is one of the first activities at the school before the start of the fall semester. This year band members were back on the last Monday of July, Schutter said. The students have music and routines to learn.

The faculty parking lot is marked out as a football field, and drills are executed with and without music.

Once school starts, band kids are some of the first to show up at school as practices begin at 7:30 a.m.

But all that hard work is worth it for the students.

“Getting to provide entertainment to all those people” is rewarding, Desens said. “I like being a part of a group that does that.”

People appreciate the band’s work, said Paige Madsen, a freshmen flautist.

Hearing contest scores is another great reward, Kehrwald said.

“When it’s a good score, that is,” he said.

Schutter and fellow director John Patzlaff run a tight ship. If chatter starts between bursts of music, students are called out.

Marching band doesn’t have a very long season. It’s over as the first term ends, Schutter said.

“When we step back into school on Oct. 23, we’ll break out into our concert bands,” he said.


Information from: Aberdeen American News, https://www.aberdeennews.com

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