The contest is divided into two sections: concert and sightreading. During the concert portion, each band plays three songs they have rehearsed in class. Then, they go to the sightreading room, where they receive a piece of music they’ve never seen.
“The hardest part of the competition was the sightreading,” said sophomore Nathan Smith. “You have to have a lot of participation and confidence.”
Before the band plays the new piece of music, the director is allowed seven minutes to explain what he wants them to do, but no sounds may come from the band.
Bands are scored on a rating scale of one to five by three judges in each section. One is best. To earn sweepstakes, a band must receive a majority of ones from all judges in all sections of the contest and in the marching competition held the previous fall.
The Bobcat band’s victory is exceptionally sweet because they earned ones from every judge in every section of all competitions this year.
To prepare for the contest, the band began practicing their concert pieces as early as the fall semester. Band director Roy Martin made sure he selected the right music for the band by trying out different pieces.
As the school year progressed, the band rehearsed by breaking the pieces apart on working on different sections individually.
Martin also stressed that the school administration’s support was crucial to the band’s achievement.
Thanks to Skidmore-Tynan ISD, the band was also able to implement a new form of preparation this year. The district bought them studio recording equipment. Martin recorded the band practicing and had the students listen, take notes, and critique themselves.
“My favorite thing about the contest was the concert, hearing all the songs and everything pieced together,” said junior Gabriella Garibay.
The hard work paid off. Martin received compliments from highly regarded band directors all over the state saying that STHS was the best band in the entire competition, which included 27 bands from both 2A and 3A schools. Only five bands won sweepstakes.
This is band director Roy Martin’s first year at STHS. He believes his band always had the ability to achieve such an honor but inconsistency in leadership kept them from reaching it. Before his arrival, the band had six directors in seven years.
“This is the most respectful group of kids I’ve worked with,” said Martin. “Their lack of stability caused them to step back emotionally. The success we’ve had now enables them to buy into what I’m selling.”
What Martin is selling, he hopes, is a legacy the Bobcat band can be proud of, based on hard work and never taking their success for granted.
“There will never be another first time,” he said, “so they can remember this accomplishment for a long time.”
And, of course, the Bobcat band plans to continue their winning streak in seasons to come.
Sarah Taylor is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at sarah@mySouTex.com.