The Fighting Cardinals Marching Band prepares for first competition.
How the FCMB prepares for the competition season.
September 23, 2022
We all know the Fighting Cardinals Marching Band likes to inspire fans and the team during the football season, but dthis weekend the FCMB will participate in an annual competition of its own.
On September 24th, the FCMB will compete in the OMEA Zips Invitational featuring “Metal,” a piece with the three movements, “Driving With the Top Down,” “Ecstasy of Gold,” and “Master of Puppets.” This competition with be hosted at the University of Akron featuring many schools from around the area.
Band Competition By Definition
So what exactly is a band competition?
Marching band competitions are held by the state on Saturdays throughout the fall season. Locations will vary with many competitions taking place at college and high school level football fields.
Bands come from all around with a range of about 5-20 different bands playing in each competition. The bands will start with warming up and then take to the field to perform their shows to a panel of adjudicated judges, there to access the execution of each band’s performance. There are seven judges for each competition targeting individual aspects of the band. These categories can include, musical accuracy, visual performance, auxiliary, percussion, and the general effect of the band.
When a band has wrapped up its show the judges will begin the rating process. This process is set on a rating scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being the best or most “superior” score, with the range ending at 5 or a “poor” performance rating. Bands strive for the best rating possible hoping to move up the ranks and secure a spot in higher-level competitions.
Competition preparation starts around late August during the band’s annual summer band camp. This week-long camp revolves around all shows relating to the band, including the football shows and pre-game. “Metal” was worked on minimally with the show getting put together closer to the school season. The process involves learning to play each movement of “Metal” with accuracy while also learning the marching sets. The band also adds visual movements and poses into the competition piece once the initial show is more polished and clean.
To achieve this level of polished performance the band puts hours of effort into their practices, in school and after not to mention in between practicing for the football halftime show.
Before the summer season, even more work is done in the previous school year, which is when “Metal” and the early stages of the show’s concept get created.
“We actually begin working on the show early in the previous school year choosing music and the theme of the show,” FCMB director Stephen Poremba told Cardinal Nation. “As we get a better idea of the show concept we look at what kind of props we can use to enhance the visual aspect of the show.”
Preparation for these marching shows is no easy task, taking months of pre-season planning and rehearsals to create an elite-level show.
To many, a marching band is considered simply an added source of entertainment during football games. This is why marching competitions are so important as it gives marchers a chance to be a focal point, where music performance is the center of attention.
“I would say the importance of a marching band competition is in showing the true potential of marching music,” says Matt Dawson, one of the FCMB drum majors. “Marching bands are often seen as a sound system for the football team…competition shows, on the other hand, are much more challenging.”
Marching competitions are the opportunity for bands to step out of the football atmosphere and be challenged, becoming able to serve a greater performance beyond just halftime.
The competition also serves as a learning experience for marchers, learning dedication toward goals and the continuation of hard work.
“I like to think that we learn to continually get better and how to set a goal and work towards it,” Mr. Poremba says. “We have fifteen minutes to show the hours of work that we have put into our show and have one shot to make the best impression possible. We always say that no matter how great or not great a show is we celebrate and get back to work.“
What’s next for the FCMB?
The Fighting Cardinals will continue to perform for multiple upcoming competitions with a confirmed competition being in Brunswick for the 39th Annual Sound Spectacular on October 9th. The band also has the hopes of making it to the OMEA states finals this year, achieving that goal through hard work and dedication.