Blossoming with ‘Blossom’: Marching band caps off a season of growth

November 17, 2022 — by Shannon Ma
Photo by Isabelle Gecils
Marching band won 4th place at the Sacramento regional championships on Nov. 5.
Through cooperation and patience, the marching band overcomes lack of experience among freshmen.

In the chilly morning air on Nov. 5, senior woodwind captain Helen Kao held her breath as she stood in formation with 174 members of the marching band on the vast field of Sacramento State University, facing hundreds of audience members in the bleachers. The Western Band Association (WBA) NorCal Super Show regional championships in Sacramento marked the band’s last of three competitions. 

Fortified by over three months of grueling practices, the band gave a successful final performance of their show “Blossom,” earning fourth place overall, second place in Visual Performance Caption and third place in Percussion Caption against 20 other high schools.

This year was vastly different compared to their previous season, where half the marching band was new to field performances after a year of online classes.

While new freshmen lacked middle school marching experience, the band continued to improve on their technique and overall synchronization as the season progressed.

“As the season went on, new members responded to feedback much faster and showed improvement with every rehearsal,” said Kao, who plays the flute.

Additionally, veteran band members were quick to help new members, ensuring nobody was left behind. Their strong sense of community allowed the marching band to improve together as the weeks went by. According to senior clarinetist Dyne Lee, the sophomores were notably active in helping the freshmen adjust to marching on the field.

In contrast to past seasons, the marching band learned their entire show by the first competition. Typically, the marching band learns only the first and second movements of their show in the beginning of the year, and adds movements as they compete throughout the season. 

“We were learning at an amazing rate and got really far in the beginning,” said junior Tejas Tirthapura, who plays center marimba in the band’s front ensemble. 

Members said the band’s progress was especially impressive due to the show’s difficulty and the tight rehearsal schedules. Band camp over the summer was a key time for marching band members to practice marching and start learning choreography. However, this year’s band camp was shortened to allow students to rest after the music department’s summer Europe tour. 

“Considering how we had a lot less rehearsal time this season compared to past seasons, it was a big feat,” Kao said.

Aside from competing at the WBA NorCal Super Show, the marching band also attended Cupertino Tournament of Bands (TOB) and the Sierra Cup Classic in Fresno. At the Sierra Cup Classic, percussion was awarded first place in preliminaries, helping the band advance to the final round.

“At the last competition, it was really clear how dedicated each one of the new members was and how much they had pushed themselves to get better,” Kao said.

Tirthapura felt the show’s theme of “Blossom” encapsulated the band’s growth not only over this season, but “throughout the years one does marching band.”

Attempting to train during COVID-19 and then competing fresh out of lockdown was challenging, said band director Jason Shiuan in a past Falcon interview. But their persistence and love for their craft allowed them to endure obstacles and ultimately thrive in the 2022 fall season.

“We definitely came a long way,” Tirthapura said. “I can’t believe the season is over already, but I look forward to doing it all over again next year.”

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