Winter percussion team enjoys successful season

April 1, 2019 — by Sofia Jones and Connie Liang
Photo by Mark Guidry

Winter Percussion performs at a Napa competition in early March.

Last year’s winter percussion show featured elaborate choreography and props. This year’s show was comparatively simple, using no props and having more of a focus on music.

Despite the different approaches, the results showed to be successful, and the group placed first at almost every competition in the season.

The theme for the season was “Upside Down.” It represented by the juxtaposition of scenery on the floor: a thicket of trees to one side and a cluster of buildings on the other.

While the show did not feature any props this year, the bright pink, purple, orange and gold floral-embroidered costumes added splashes of color to the performance. The show also featured solos from individual sections including the snare, bass and quad lines, a notable distinction from recent years.

“It shows the audience ‘here’s how everyone plays’ instead of everyone playing as a group the entire show,” said junior Shveta Subramanian, a snare drum section leader.

The surge in first-year performers further differentiated this season’s show from previous years. Subramanian saw  initial struggles because almost everyone in the battery ensemble was new, but gradually, the newbies learned their steps and music, which greatly improved the show.

The new faces were accompanied by a new staff, a change that sophomore Aelfred Moore believes has helped broaden students’ mindsets as they discover potential areas of improvement. The new coach was Sean Clark.

“The new directors aren’t used to the Saratoga mindset,” Moore said. “They constantly tell us ‘You guys may be smart with math and academics, but you need to become smart in a different way by working together.’”

Although many members played different instruments than they did during the marching season, or started entirely new ones, the transition was smooth for many members. With more underclassmen than usual, several students took on more of a leadership role, despite not holding any official titles.

Despite switching over to a new section at the beginning of the season, Moore had to step up by serving as a mentor to the freshmen. He and the one other sophomore in the battery section have found that leading by example coupled with critique paves way to an effective learning experience for all.

“I think it’s one of the best ways we can handle some of the small details and fixes in visuals, small pieces of the music and the technique,” Moore said.

After a rough start to the season — second-to-last place in their first competition — the team has excelled. At their show on March 2 at American Canyon High School, they placed first out of 14 groups, and placed first out of 13 groups the following weekend at James Logan High School. At their last competition in Stockton on March 30, they placed second out of 14.

“This season was great,” junior Rayne Schulman said. “I was a bit worried at first, but by the end of the season, I think we were sounding the best we have in a long time. We learned so much in such a short amount of time, and I can’t wait to see how much we can improve in the future.”

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