The Monticello High School marching band got its 2012-13 competitive season off to a great start on October 20 when the band took top honors at the Ouachita Valley Invitational contest. Competing against 16 other high school marching bands, Monticello’s 67-member band was named Grand Champion at the contest.
The band received 1st division superior ratings for auxiliaries, drum major, percussion and full band. The percussion was named the Class AAA outstanding percussion section. Matt Cater, the drum major, won the award for Class AAA outstanding drum major. The band was also named the Class AAA outstanding band and won overall outstanding marching technique and overall outstanding musical performance.
Three days after sweeping the Ouachita Valley Invitational contest, the band received 1st division superior ratings at the Arkansas School Band & Orchestra Association Region 3 Marching Band Assessment. The assessment scores puts the band on track for its fourth consecutive sweepstakes band achievement award.
Accomplishments like that do not come without a lot of hard work from both the band director and band members.
Monticello Band Director Matt Teague said the band begins practicing in the summer before school starts, working six hours a day. Once school starts they practice an hour and a half each day.
The challenge for the director is to create a cohesive — and entertaining — performance with 67 students of different ages and abilities who play different instruments. The challenge for students is to learn the music and routines and learn to march while playing their instruments.
They’re playing music by memory, while moving backward, forward, sideways and diagonally, and they’re doing it in sync and in tempo. They have to use their spatial knowledge and awareness to make sure the spacing is exactly right while watching the drum major to make sure they’re all together.
“It’s unbelievably complicated when you think about it,” said Gary Meggs, the director of bands at the University of Arkansas at Monticello.
Adding to the visual appeal of the band is the auxiliaries — majorette line and flag line — wearing sparkly uniforms and tossing their batons and flags while moving in step throughout the musical ranks.
While the band plays at football games to support the football team, those Friday night halftime performances also help the band prepare for the big marching contests and band competitions.
This year’s marching show is “That 70’s Show” featuring the classic rock anthems Carry On Wayward Son, Bohemian Rhapsody and Dream On.
Frank Ferguson, a former Monticello High School Band director, saw the show a couple of weeks ago when Monticello played Warren in the Saline River Shootout. He was impressed. “I’m pleased to see the Monticello band doing so well,” Ferguson said.
“People think football fields are for football but we know football fields are really for band practice,” he quipped.
In addition to the halftime performances at football games and the marching contests, the band presents concerts and performs at local parades and other events throughout the year.
Last year, the band was invited to perform at the historic ground-breaking ceremony for the first Interstate 69 project in Arkansas.
Teague is fortunate that the Monticello School District also has a gifted middle school band director to prepare the students for the high school program. His wife, Carrie is the junior high band director.
“Mr. Teague is a fine teacher but you don’t have a good high school program unless you have a good middle school program and that’s where I have to give Mrs. Teague some credit,” Meggs said. “She takes those little kids and works with them, mothers them, and gives them extremely strong discipline so when Mr. Teague gets them, instead of having to reteach, he gets to polish and push them even further. It’s a perfect set-up.”
The band is now preparing for the concert assessment. “Now that we got the (superior rating) at the region marching assessment at Watson Chapel, the goal now is to go to the concert assessment and get (a superior rating),” Teague said.
Monticello High School Band and Auxiliaries
Olivia Wooten (Co-Captain)
Morgan Hopper (Co-Captain)
Olivia Wooten (Section Leader)
Norma Rivera (Section Leader)
Alex Borchardt (Section Leader)
Walker Jarrett (Section Leader)
Matt Montgomery (Section Leader)
Matt Cater (Section Leader)
Jeremy Weih (Section Leader)
Corey Pemberton (Section Leader)
Rian Meeks (Section Leader)
Joseph James (Section Leader)
Kayla McDaniel (Co-Captain)
Elizabeth Wilson (Co-Captain)