by ERIN CLARK and REAGAN MOTSINGER - Members of the Shamrock Pride Marching Band discuss their past season after placing third out of nineteen with their show, “Villaineque,” at ISSMA Scholastic A Finals.
WESTFIELD, Ind. (Oct. 26, 2019) - It was a year of change for the marching band this past season, the most important being the leadership of a new director, Mr. Andrew Muth.
“At first, I really didn’t know how I felt about Mr. Muth because he is a very different director than what we are used to,“ clarinet section leader Alyssa Smith (12) said. “In the end though, I think he honestly did make us start to appreciate what we’re doing and what everyone else around us is doing; he really put us in that mindset where we are doing this for a reason, we’re doing it because we love to do it. So he really helped us get there, and he helped us work a lot harder than we normally would have done.“
Some of the new changes in procedure that Mr. Muth implemented for the band included practices such as not clapping for themselves during awards. While these changes helped demonstrate that the Shamrock Pride was a new band, the real proof came through aspects of the show itself: "Villainesque."
“I actually really like this year’s show,” Smith said. “It was really fun, and we had a bunch of cool choreography work that we got to do. It was a lot harder than other years, but we also did get a lot more dance and body movement, which was cool, and this year we didn’t have shakos, our hats, so we had to control our facial expressions, which isn’t something we normally have to do, but it was fun having to get into character. We also got new uniforms, and I think they actually look pretty cool. With our other ones, they were kinda bulky and kinda a gross color, but now we have sleek black ones.”
Like Smith, baritone player Tyler Holmes (10) liked the direction that the show took the band in, especially compared with both the original plan for the show, “Welcome to Villaintown,” and last year’s show, “Travelogue.”
“I think ‘Villainesque’ was a way better show than ‘Welcome to Villaintown’ would have been,” Holmes said. “‘Welcome to Villaintown’ just kinda makes me laugh inside but ‘Villainesque’ is just more like ‘Ooh, serious, scary, spooky.’ It was better than ‘Travelogue’ too, because that was more of a fun show, where ‘Villainesque’ was more serious, and at the end of the first movement of ‘Villainesque’ I was more tired than I was after a full run of ‘Travelogue,’ so it was different for sure.”
"Villainesque" consisted of three movements based on four songs: “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Lorde, “Ballet Suite Number 4” by Dmitri Shoshtakovitch, “Mad World” by Gary Jules and "Suite from Psycho” by Bernard Herrmann. The show followed a character being forced to choose the path of villainy and madness in order to achieve his goals.
“I was the main person or character, and I just had the opportunity to play that role and have a lot of fun with it,” drum major Gavin Phares (11) said. “It was thrilling, terrifying, nerve-wracking and just amazing all at the same time. I don’t even know how to describe it, there were so many feelings all at once every time.”
After preparing since May, the Shamrock Pride performed for the last time on Oct. 26 at ISSMA Scholastic A Class Finals. However, on the day of Finals, not everything went according to plan. Because of bad weather, Finals were moved inside as a stand-still, meaning there would be no football field, marching or drill at this performance.
“I was a little bit scared, since our show was mainly body and choreography,” Phares said. “But we figured it out and we got it down, and it looked and sounded amazing from indoors, which was incredible.”
However, because Finals were moved inside, the band was able to add a surprise tag-on to the end of the show. It helped conclude the story within the show, as Phares and the guard took over and were quite literally left the last ones standing.
“Because we were inside, Mr. Muth decided it would be a good idea if we added more choreography at the end,” Smith said. “He had Zhao [Jiang (11)] play this different ending that wraps it up with the beginning part, so he played that while we started to lose our minds and dying, and then the guard came up and they go to push us over, and it was really getting into the ‘Villainesque’ piece of it. It was really dark, really cool, we had cool eye makeup and stuff, and it was really fun.”
Despite the confidence the band had in and the enjoyment the band got out of their performance, they did not score quite as well as they hoped.
“I feel like we definitely got cheated by that one judge, the Individual Music judge, who really messed up our score,” Holmes said. “I think we should have at least gotten second, but I was really happy that we beat the champion of the last few years, Warren Central, so I can’t really complain.”
Even though the judges may not have rated the performance as highly as the band had hoped, Smith looked on the bright side.
“We were psyching ourselves up like ‘Yes, we just had the best run, it was so fun, we killed it,’ so we really thought we were getting first,” Smith said. “To not get that was kinda a letdown, but the more I think on it, the more I realize that there were groups in that class that should not have been in that class and they could have been in a higher class. So, to get to be able to perform next to them, and still have people think that we’re good enough for third place, was really cool. I’m pretty proud of our third place, plus that’s the highest we’ve gotten in my four years, so it was really fun.”
For Holmes, one thing ensured that he would come back for another season, regardless of this year’s placement.
“My favorite part about marching band was probably the family that we get to build,” Holmes said. “It was fun doing the whole thing, obviously, but the best part that made me keep coming back was the low brass family, or messing around with the trumpet family, or the saxophone family. Everybody was so fun to be around, and even when they were mean to you, you just know that you love that person and they love you too because you’re a family.”