Ashburn, Va. (September 11, 2014) – Blue face paint and spirit wear won’t be the only shades of blue present at this year’s football games; the Marching Bulldogs will also be bringing “Shades of Blue,” to the Stone Bridge High School football field during halftime shows this fall.
This year’s show consists of a medley of the songs “Rhapsody in Blue.” by George Gershwin and “Blue Shades,” by Frank Ticheli. Although the composers wrote these pieces almost 70 years apart from each other, the songs are united by the jazzy elements fused into symphonic compositions.
“I chose this piece because I thought it would be really fun to do,” band director David Keller said. “Also, I thought it would be appealing to both the students and the audience because the music would be very recognizable.”
Students agree that the jazz elements of the show are what make it unique and fun to do, as it is slightly different from the Marching Bulldog’s past shows.
“The show includes sections that are in a swing rhythm which is a much more jazzy way of playing music which is a lot different from past years,” senior John Pulley said. “I am really excited to perform it at football games because those have always been some of my favorite performances for as long as I’ve been in marching band because we get to perform for people we actually know and it motivates us to do really well just for the sake of the audience.”
The marching band can be found at all of the varsity football home games, and members of the marching band can also often be found at major away games. However, the band also competes in many regional competitions each fall as well as the Homecoming parade and other community events.
“I’m really excited for this year,” Mr. Keller said. “We have a really strong group of freshmen that joined us this year and I am excited to get to work with them and see what this year brings. Other than that, this season seems very similar to all of the ones in years past so I know it has the potential to be a great year.”
Joining Mr. Keller on the leadership team are this year’s drum majors seniors Sarah Vanlandingham, Kelsey Phinney, and John Pulley.
Last spring, candidates for drum major auditioned for this position, showing off their skills in conducting, music theory, and their ability to lead.
“All three of them have great qualities of leaders,” Mr. Keller said. “They are all very good role models and are very positive about completing their responsibilities.”
The drum majors work with Mr. Keller, assisting him at practice as well as helping out in other ways.
“As drum majors we are mostly responsible for conducting the band during shows,” senior Sarah Vanlandingham said. “Behind the scenes we also serve as role models in marching and music theory. We try to embody qualities that we want to see in the band. We also help Mr. Keller a lot with doing certain tasks and assisting the rest of the band.”
The drum majors agree that it’s important to get to know all of the other people in the band to help make the season go by smoothly.
“I think the biggest goal of the drum majors is put on a great show but to also make sure the members of the band have fun while putting in their best effort,” Pulley said. “We want them to have fun so they come back and do it again for all four years. We want everyone to get something out of marching band that makes them a better person. We try to work with every personality that we have in the band and we recognize each other’s strengths and weaknesses to make sure everyone is affected positively by the season.”
Like other fall sports, the Marching Bulldogs have been out on the fields for hours each day learning the new music and formations that will make this year’s blue filled show possible.
The Marching Bulldogs are ultimately working for the state assessment that is scheduled for later this fall. The goal is to get a 1, or a superior rating at the end of the season. Last year, the marching band earned a superior title for their show featuring songs from popular musical-turned-movie, “Les Miserables.”
“At the end of the season, we as a band want to grow together to produce a high quality show,” Vanlandingham said. “We want to create better people, but also have a fantastic show and get a 1 at state assessment.”
Members of the Marching Bulldogs agree that being a part of the marching is a great experience mainly because of the people they get to work with and their shared love of music.
“I really love the people in the band and the atmosphere,” Vanlandingham said. “Everyone is so dedicated. Marching band is an extracurricular so everyone that is there is dedicated. Everyone genuinely wants to be there so we can always produce a great show and develop great individuals. We all bond together as a group because we love music and love being around each other and the experience all around is priceless.”
Article written by Viva Loudoun intern Sarah Smith.