Marching on to State

Marching band places second in state competition.

Katie Griffith

More stories from Katie Griffith

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Marching Band performong at the Rouse vs. Cedar Creek football game.

     Moving from classes to practice to state competitions and then to Friday night lights, Marching Band season is jam packed for band members. Yet with the busy schedule, the band still managed to perform in over six competitions, and continue to break school records.

     This year the Marching Band placed second in state, the highest ever ranking in school history. Not only was a new record achieved, but the top three schools in the 5A state competition belonged to the LISD district, with Cedar Park placing first, Rouse second and Leander third.

    “It was surreal,” senior Gabby Corneille said. “I remember looking up at my drum major and seeing him tearing up, so I started tearing up. The band directors were all crying. It was awesome.” 

     The Marching Band 2021 Fall Show was entitled “Papyrus, a Crumpled Paper Fantasy.” It incorporated the theme of paper balls, however, the main idea behind the show was actually about the creation of an idea.

     “Usually shows are an idea that comes from it, but this was about the creation of that idea,” Corneille said. “I think it’s really deep for a marching show which was really cool.”

     After a year of virtual school due to the coronavirus, the number of band members on the field actually decreased in size, even though the band program itself grew. There were 170 band members this year.

     “Even despite our size we were still competitively successful, which is pretty rare in the marching band world,” Head Marching Band Director Caitlin Wolf said. “Usually the bigger the band, the better you are, but we were one of the smallest bands and when we were competing we still got recognized so that was pretty unique and special. I think that the junior and senior class in particular really wanted this year to be great, so they pushed and tried to make it as great as they could and the freshmen and sophomores followed along.”

     According to Wolf, Rouse takes part in one of the most competitive regions and areas in the state. While last year, the top four schools were taken to the state competition, this year there were only three, so it’s never a guarantee on whether or not a marching band may make it. 

     “For prelims, I felt nervous because it was the first time we had played in the AlamoDome that year and I was worried that it would affect some of the other people because it was a different environment,” Corneille said. “Going into finals, I felt really good and really excited because our prelims run was so good. Finals were even better.”

     Two years ago, Rouse placed fourth in State, which at the time had been another breaking of the school record.

     “To see and to hear the student growth from year to year was pretty awesome,” Wolf said. “I think every show that they’ve had they’ve gotten better and better. I think collectively they wanted to have their best show yet, and I think that showed up in their performance as they were pushing themselves and trying to have the best show that they could have.”

     In order to create a Marching Band show, preparation must begin almost a year in advance. A Program Coordinator is hired to come up with an idea and incorporate all the elements together. The directors are able to choose the music they think is best fit to teach the students, and then the Program Coordinator picks and chooses how to fit it together to make all the pieces work.

     “Right now we are already talking about next year’s show even though we just finished this season,” Wolf said. “All marching music is original, and we hire someone to write it, so that takes time to go through that process. Usually music is in the hands of the students in early May or late April.”

     Along with band members, the Visual Ensemble, a combination of Color Guard and Rhythm Dance Company, performs in the competitions. While the band performs, the VE dances and uses props to help emphasize the main theme of the show.

     “When the band does a set, we perform the set with them,” sophomore Mahita Ramesh said. “It’s a whole ensemble, us with the band itself. It’s a whole team, and that’s pretty nice. Dancing with the live Band is definitely a unique experience that I think everybody should have.”

     Props that the VE used this year included flags, rifles, sabers, paper balls, a paper mache book and their skirts to go along with the choreography. The props are used throughout the show to represent many different ideas.

     “The Paper Mache book is one of the main props that we use in the show that demonstrates the idea that’s created,” Ramesh said. “It’s used in the intro, it’s used in the ballad, it’s used throughout a lot of the show. Paper balls and stuff like that were also used a lot. In different parts of the show we’re trying to demonstrate different things, and in the ballad specifically we’re talking about finding  an idea, opening it up, reading it and finding information that makes this idea really valuable and a good idea.”

     In addition to the state competition, other competitions that the marching band performed in included Texas Marching Classic (TMC), and Bands of America (BOA) Austin as well as BOA Waco and BOA San Antonio. In BOA competitions, the band has the opportunity to compete against 6A schools. BOA San Antonio is one of the most competitive marching band competitions in the world. Two years ago, Rouse placed 31 out of 72 schools, but this year the band placed 13, also being the first time to make finals.

     “State actually wasn’t our last performance, we had another competition after that and we placed highest that we ever have in school history at that competition too,” Wolf said. “I think that was the best performance of the year, the last competition, which is all that I could have ever asked for from the kids- to get better and better.”

     Now that the marching band season is over, concert season has begun. Rouse Raiders can look forward to the Band’s next winter concert.

     “Right now, we’re preparing for concerts,” Wolf said. “We’ll be doing a winter concert, and we have concert season this next spring which involves instruments choirs as well as preparing the band to perform for UIL. This is the time of the year where we can really get a lot better at our instruments. I feel like Marching Band is a lot of time and a lot of work, you can’t really break things down as much. Concert season is where we get a lot better on an individual level which will pay dividends when we go back to the Marching Band season next year.”

     While this year’s marching season may have ended successfully, preparation for next year’s has only just begun. Returning band members an incoming freshman will carry on the success of this year with an even bigger goal insight

     “To future band members, I would say to definitely do your best and don’t let everything going on around you overwhelm what you know what to do,” senior Caleb McConkey said. “The amount of training you will do will definitely be difficult and you just need to focus and keep going.”