The West Band Marches Into Their New Season


Emelie Tovar

West Band takes the football field during the Homecoming game to play.

Malvika Mahendhra, Editor-in-Chief

The benches are packed with high schoolers and parents with eyes watching intently on the football field ahead. The air is buzzing with excitement over the next plays of the football team and the upcoming halftime show by the Royales. However, this exhilarating energy is largely made up not by the individuals in the jerseys, but by the ones performing in the stands: band. Their spirited music riles up the crowd and is a constant in creating school spirit.

“My favorite memories of band are definitely all the football games,” senior Sivi Palanisami said. “Every Friday, during football season, we have the chance to make new memories.”

While players in marching band have the opportunity to make memories, the time dedication and work ethic needed is a challenge.

“The hardest part of being in band is definitely marching season,” senior Eric Pacheco said. “You usually have to practice every day after school for two hours. For marching band, there is a lot of stuff you have to do on the weekend and you have to go to every game.”

Trying to balance academics and band is also a struggle for students participating in band. For them, being efficient is essential to keep up with band, school and their other extracurriculars.

“In the beginning, the time commitment was definitely a challenge,” Jenny Tan said. “Especially in ninth grade, trying to get acclimated to the larger workload and marching band was hard, but being in band taught me a lot about time management. Even though during marching season I usually got home three hours later, I still managed to complete all of my homework and sleep before midnight.”

After the football season ends, the marching band quickly settles down to practice for upcoming concerts. There are several differences that exists between marching band and concert band, that mainly deal with the environment.

“Concert band is nice because you get to sit down the entire time in an air conditioned building,” Tan said. “Some other differences are that in marching band there is usually more than one conductor (the drum major) because of how spread out everyone is, and that more delicate instruments (like oboe or bassoon) cannot be used in marching band.”

The change of the season even means the use of different instruments for some individuals in band.

“During marching season I play the mellophone,” Pacheco said. “But during concert season, I play the French horn.”

Apart from marching and concert band, there also exists another type of band at West.

“There is jazz band, which is a separate class,” Pacheco said. “To be in jazz band you have to be in band, so people who are in jazz band have two periods of band.”

Along with the bands that exist at school, band students have the opportunity to compete for a position in the All-State band, which is composed of students from various schools.

“I made area in tenth grade,” Pacheco said. “That meant I was able to join the All-Region orchestra. It was really fun because I enjoyed playing in an orchestra compared to just an ordinary band.”

For most senior students in band, being a part of band has been a commitment since middle school.

I joined band in 6th grade and continued until my senior year,” Palanisami said. “I decided to continue because of the amazing friendships I made and I loved playing music with my friends.”

While the reason for joining band is different for every student, for Tan the decision to be a part of band was unexpected.

“My parents wanted me to sign up for choir,” Tan said. “My brother somehow convinced my mom to let him try out for band, but I did not know. Right before they left, I realized they were going to band instrument tryouts, and I quickly tagged along. I was ready to join choir, but after going with my brother to the instrument tryout, I realized that I really wanted to join band.”

Being a part of band in middle school and continuing it throughout high school has meant that students have gotten the opportunity to see themselves grow in their musical ability and overcome obstacles.

“ I remember in middle school, we went to go see the Dallas Winds play Wine Dark Sea by John Mackey,” Tan said. “That was especially memorable to me because later on, I was able to play the same piece with the All-State Symphonic Band last year. As an eighth grader, I never thought that I would be able to play challenging pieces like that.”

Along with the relationships between band players, there exists another type of relationship that is more personal: the bond between a player and the instrument of their choice.

I play flute and I love it because you can do so much with it,” Palanisami said. “For example you can beatbox, play lyrical and technical etudes. It is such a versatile instrument.”

Every year, band students prepare for their All-Region audition, which is an opportunity to gain a coveted spot on the All-Region and/or All-State band. This year, the All-Region audition happened on Dec. 1.

All Region is required to do for band, but it is not for a grade like marching band is,” Pacheco said. “For your audition, there are three etudes, one is usually a technical one, and another is a lyrical etude, and the last is kind of an in between etude, which is generally just a harder etude. They set up a bunch of rooms and they have students play one after another to a blind judge and essentially you play an excerpt from the etude because it is really hard to play the entire thing.”

This season, band has met many external obstacles that tested their ability to perform and work together to maintain a positive attitude.

“It rained a lot during marching season, and it caused us to have to rehearse inside and not be able to perform at a lot of the football games,” Tan said. “But I learned that instead of being discouraged by a negative situation, like getting rained out, we can be motivated by our circumstances by encouraging each other.”

During second semester, band competes in University Interscholastic League (UIL), which is a competition between other school bands. The event pushes the band to perform at their best, in order to achieve a high ranking.

“Once we get into UIL, we have a sectionals practice every week and that tests your playing ability to match with others,” Pacheco said. “When we have sectionals, we bond with the other players and learn everybody’s special skills when they play.”

While band has taught these students work ethic and time management, their most valuable life lesson has been their sense of community they have gained while being in band.

Band has taught me that not all family is blood related,” Palanisami said. “ I have become so close to many of the friends I made in band. Because I have chosen to continue band throughout high school, I have definitely gained a second family as well.”