For some high school marching bands, the season peaks this week when they pack several performances in a marathon that ends at the UIL state band contest.
In a logistical tour-de-force that requires planning, patience and likely a lot of coffee, bus loads of musicians, parents and props make the round-trip to the San Antonio Alamodome twice in a couple of days.
Take L.D. Bell High School's Blue Raider Band. Schedules posted on their website show the down-to-the minute preparations required to pull it all off. (r: Bell performs on 10/27/12 at Area contest in Plano. ST/Khampha Bouaphanh)
It started on Friday, when the band played at an evening football game in Irving. Teens had to arrive in full uniform at their Hurst campus at 3:15 a.m. on Saturday for a 4 a.m. departure to San Antonio to compete in the Bands of America contest (a separate competition from the UIL contest).
Included in the schedule for Bands of America Super Regional:
9 a.m.: arrive at a local athletic complex for an early rehearsal.
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: restroom, eat lunch, do hair and makeup.
3:30 p.m.: preliminary round at Alamodome. After a later finals round, Bell won third place.
11:30 p.m.: leave and get back to campus at 5 a.m. on Sunday.
On Monday, they had to get to high school at 8:45 a.m. for first period and loaded and by 9:30 a.m. for the UIL state performance. They drove straight to an athletic center, where boosters fed them lunch before a two hour reheasal that started at 3:05 p.m.They ate dinner at the Alamo Quarry Market and were supposed to turn lights off at the hotel at 10 p.m.
Today, the band's schedule called for a 7 a.m. wake up, another rehearsal at 10 a.m. and a noon to 1:15 p.m. period to "eat lunch/hydrate/restroom/hair and makeup."
They are scheduled to perform in the preliminary round in the Alamodome at 5:15 p.m. today. The finals round, for the top 10 bands, starts at 8:15 p.m. They're scheduled to leave the Alamodome at 11:30 p.m. tonight and arrive back to campus at 5 a.m.
By 8:45 a.m. on Wednesday, the band hall will open for first period. Students were told "It is very important to attend and particupate in a full day of school."
Band leaders help the students take crazy scheduling all in stride.
“We leave very early Saturday morning for Bands of America. We arrive back home early Sunday morning, and have time to visit with families, rest, and do homework,” said Van Mathews, Bell’s head band director, on Friday as he calmly ticked off the band’s schedule for the next few days.