WAXAHACHIE — With the color guard disguised in snakeskin and the marchers in their traditional bests, the Spirit of Waxahachie Indian Band entertained, impressed and, most importantly, won during at Bands of America.
Waxahachie finished first in the Class 3A preliminaries and its 220 members were also awarded Best Music Performance and Best General Effects for their skill and overall entertaining presentation.
The annual competition that pits some of the best and largest high school marching bands from around the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex was held Sept. 30.
“They [the students] were excited,” recalled Waxahachie High School Director of Bands Richard Armstrong of his students’ reaction to the awards. “We’re happy with what they did, but at the same time we know what they’re capable of and not quitting until it’s all done.”
“And at the same time, we were in the same chunk of people as the top 6A programs in Texas, so we did pretty good,” he added.
With a 79.65 rating in the finals, Waxahachie's eighth-place finish was close behind Keller Central High School and Vista Ridge High School by nearly one point — and only 7.3 points behind the first place winner, Hebron High School.
According to the program’s description, the “Serpentine” show reflects the inner struggle of beauty versus evil of the Greek mythology goddess, Medusa, through a roller-coaster of musical arrangements.
“It’s about the juxtaposition of the beauty of Medusa and the hideousness of her snakes, and the whole contrast of the movement of the snakes and the slithering, and the frozenness of the statues is a good mixture,” Armstrong described the entertainment of the show.
From act one of “The Deviant” introducing Medusa through the “Blue Danube” as a character with much inner turmoil to the aggressive act two of “The Serpent,” that morphed into a lament of act three’s “The Scorned.” The performance concludes with a powerful playing of “The Feared” in act four.
“This show is very clear with the Medusa color guard outfits, the snake props, and the statues and people moving, then they’re frozen at different times,” Armstrong related. “We make snakes on the field, you hear snake sounds at the beginning in the sound effects, and we create almost like a movie soundtrack and feel to it.”
As stated by a BOA press release, this year’s competition featured 26 high school marching bands in the preliminary round, all of which were evaluated by a panel of nationally recognized music educators and marching band experts, making the expectation of perfection fierce for Armstrong's students.
“We’re all geared towards producing the best product we can possibly produce and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Armstrong noted. “So if we win, that’s great, if we don’t win then that’s still great. The process of producing a great product, to me, is what it’s all about.”
“Because that’s what these kids will take away from this later in life, they’ll have to work at something until its right, and that is probably the most profound thing they can get out of this,” he included.
Though the WHS band was able to take pride in the preliminaries and advance to the top ten of the finals with much larger districts, Armstrong emphasized that there will always be room for his band to improve.
“I think our team is moving in the right direction and we work hard as a team, staff, students, and parent support – the whole thing,” Armstrong expounded. “We’re teaching the kids how to engage an audience, how to understand what they’re performing and how to perform it, and at the same time we're teaching them to concentrate on every single thing they do, and that every note and phrase is controlled.”
“We have a lot of work to do to have our product be the way it needs to be but we have a month to do that and the kids are getting comfortable and understand what they need to do, and they’re humble about it.
And as the state competition nears, Armstrong goes on to encourage the community to attend the band’s performances at home games and cheer on their hard work.
“Come watch the kids and watch what they do. I think everyone knows we work hard; it's like an unwritten rule. But we’re trying to do the best we can, and these kids are getting better every day,” Armstrong finished.
For more information on the band’s performance schedule, visit spiritofwaxahachie.com or call the Waxahachie High School at (972)-923-4600.
Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer