The Year That Was for the Mentor Band Program

Band member and columnist Drew Parker takes a look back at the year in band music as they prepare for tonight’s concert


Evelyn Megery

FCMB Homecoming Parade

Before this School Year

The past couple years have been very difficult for the band program with the onset and attempted recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. In the 2020-2021 school year, the Fighting Cardinal Marching Band (FCMB) did not participate in any competitions and our concert bands had a grand total of one concert. That year had to be one of the roughest years for our music program in the history of Mentor High School. The past school year was about recovering from that catastrophe, to which we did alright. The FCMB got to go to competitions again and made it all the way to states, albeit with a stinging “excellent” at the state competition, and concert bands had three or four performances depending on if the player was in varsity band (the concert alternative to marching band).

The FCMB Season

This year was about not just recovery, but growth and identity. The directors saw that this was a perfect opportunity to start with a clean slate, producing many changes that made our band program flourish. The band season started in the summer with freshman week in the marching band. I was not present there, but I was told that the freshmen held great potential, making me more excited about this coming season. During band camp, Mr. Poremba introduced Ultimate DrillBook, an app that helps immensely with positions and movements in marching band. Using this app, we were able to visualize formations and be able to work with everybody around us.

We got to play at many great fields, including First Energy Stadium for a football game and the Horseshoe during the Buckeye Invitational. Throughout the season, we received many 1s (on a scale of 1-5, 1 being the best; used by OMEA judges) along with awards at Brunswick. Bands who get a rating of 1 during any competition automatically go to states, so we already knew what we had to prepare for.

And then we were back at states. The performance was undoubtedly the best we had ever done, including practices. Even though the season ended the same as the last one, I was much happier with our final result and came home with a smile on my face.

After Marching Band

Since the marching band was done until Disney, we went back into concert band. Practicing for a concert in around one month is rather difficult, but we managed to do it and through a great holiday concert together. The performances by all five bands (jazz, freshman, gray, scarlet, wind) were great and set the tone for a good year in concert band.

The bands had to prepare for the next concert coming up in late February. Again, there was little time to practice, but we managed again. It was difficult to manage because the FCMB had to practice after school for Disney, with many members having incredibly cold fingers. Memorizing songs while practicing others can also be taxing on the mind, but luckily, there weren’t many we needed to know for the parade in Disney.

The winter concert was way better than the holiday concert, which is great because some of the bands were competing at the OMEA band large group competition the following day. Hosted by our high school, the competition went amazing for wind ensemble, who received a 1, and great for scarlet band, receiving a 2. We are proud of both the bands for having a great showing at this competition and hope for an even better one next year.

The FCMB Disney Trip

After a month of practice, the Disney trip finally happened. It lasted from Wednesday March 15 to Monday March 20. The band loaded all sorts of items on buses and set out on a 22-hour drive from Mentor to Orlando. 

On Friday March 17, all of the instrumentalists got to wake up at the late time of 5:00 AM. The breakfast we had was provided by the hotel before they usually opened for breakfast, including yogurt, fruit, and a variety of pastries. After eating, we got on the buses and went to an instrumental clinic. The clinic was very interesting, as we played a variety of songs including Arabian Nights (Aladdin), Imperial March (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back), and How Far I’ll Go (Moana). Color guard had a dance clinic scheduled for 9:00 PM, getting back to the hotel near midnight.

The day after, the band went to Magic Kingdom to perform before a parade scheduled for 3:00 PM. In a spectacular performance, members wore their uniforms for the last time. We marched around 1 mile, though it was incredibly fast and felt like a mere minute. Many parents gave very positive feedback on our musicianship and marching skills.

We left the following night to take the long journey back home. Getting out of the busses and putting everything away took around 45 minutes, which is surprising considering that it usually takes hours after football games to put away uniforms alone. The organization shown by Music Mentors and the cooperation by band members were both impeccable and led to the quick turnover of students from the busses to their households.

The band directors expressed their best regards for the FCMB during and after the trip, explaining that they had never trusted a group of students as much as they did this year. There were no incidents I am aware of occurring during the trip.

What’s Next?

With about the same time to practice, this concert is looking to be great! I have heard all five bands and they sound wonderful, so I can’t wait to hear them again in the FAC tonight!

I was surprised by this transformation of the band and am more than happy to become a senior member of this great program in the 2023-2024 school year. Under the careful guidance of our band directors, both the FCMB and concert bands have excelled this year. The culmination of this will be shown in the concert today, May 8, 2023, at 7 PM. We all hope to see you there!