This year was the band’s “Dawn of Hope”


Photo Provided

The Big Bad Bulldog Band worked hard all season and it really paid off.

Adeline Gruen and Ian Humphreys

After a bitter ending to last year’s marching band season, the band came back to practice in June with a new goal in mind. This year’s show was called “Dawn of Hope” to signify how the band would go from not making finals at their state competition, to exceeding everyone’s expectations.

The band had many things to work on to achieve this, and they started with their low visual and general effect score. In order to change this, the band once again changed their design teams. This change helped the show become more developed and provided them with an opportunity to improve from last year since the creative team was able to show more of their vision.

“In changing design teams from last year, we’ve discovered that that’s one of those things that’s good to rely on for the design team to do,” Assistant Band Director Kevin McDonald said. “To let them have a creative vision and to be supportive of the vision if we think that the band can execute it. Mr. Hines, the show designer, was the one who really wanted us to work with this dark to light motif that ended up becoming ‘Dawn of Hope.’” 

Practice for the marching season began almost as soon as school ended in order to prepare for the Fourth of July parade. However, the band directors started focusing on the show before that, reviewing tapes and deciding what areas they were going to focus on. To ensure that not only the staff were prepared, the students have around 12 hours of rehearsal a week from the beginning of the school year, to the end of the season.

“I thought it was going to be easier than what it was, not as many hours put into it. I thought it was kind of just going to be an extra [thing] but then it became my whole life,” freshman band member Anna Vitello said. 

Multiple reviews from last year’s show highlighted many underdeveloped individual playing abilities throughout the ensemble. Achieving and surpassing the band’s goals to improve would require more than the set rehearsal times. Practicing after school or at home with the addition of once a week playing tests helped the band to raise their individual music score.

“I think the playing skills of everyone has increased tremendously. After we didn’t make finals last year it kind of made everyone realize how important and big this is. They’re a part of something that’s bigger than their individual person and it’s really cool to see how everyone’s like ‘oh this isn’t just for me,” senior Drum Major Stephanie Cromer said.

This year, the band did well at their contests, placing 2nd at both the Moore and Mustang contest and earning a one (or superior rating) at OSSAA (Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association). However, leading up to the 6A Oklahoma Bandmasters Association (OBA) state contest, the band was worried they wouldn’t even make it to finals based on their results the previous year. Luckily, Edmond Memorial squeaked in being called second to last in the list of names for finals.

“I was absolutely terrified when there were two left and Santa Fe had just been called. I was practically shaking and then they called Memorial and I was just ecstatic,” Cromer said “When we were walking off the field, all four of us [the drum majors] were in total shock again. Whether we make finals or we don’t we’re all going to cry on the walk back, it’s just whether in sadness or happiness.”

With emotions high, celebration was due for the band and anyone who had a part in it. Parents, alumni, students and staff were all together to congratulate each other.

“As band members know I talk a lot about potential being a compliment at the beginning of the season and an insult at the end of the year and I really feel that this year we really met and probably exceeded what I thought we could do,” McDonald said. “I think that really happened after our first contest. The week after that contest, a band who was committed to maximizing every rehearsal opportunity showed up and that allowed us to meet and exceed expectations this year.”

The staff had only positive feedback for the students as they prepared for their finals performance. The band performed at 8:45 P.M. and was the third band to go. With all of the main goals surpassed, the final run through was a reward for everyone. The band ended up finishing 10th overall, with a score of 81.350 and a three place improvement from last year.

“In some ways the goals and expectations for the year were really exactly what happened. That we took control of our own fate by having a performance level that was so strong, that the judges didn’t have a choice but to put us into finals,” McDonald said.

As the band transitions into concert season, the students are honing their skills in hopes of having another fantastic season next year.

Contact Adeline Gruen and Ian Humphreys at [email protected]