For those of you who aren’t involved in the Marching Pageantry world, band competitions are both a logistical nightmare and marvel at the same time. It’s this monstrous and dynamic puzzle with many pieces involved: buses and trucks, musicians, spectators, judges, equipment, food… the list goes on.

This is all worth it for the education of our students.

To ensure that everyone involved is successful, everyone involved must cooperate and trust that we’ll all play by the same rules and support each other. The good news is that the camaraderie and support often extends beyond any one group. For example, students from one school will often help out another when they see someone struggle with moving an unwieldy piece of equipment. Or, a group that just completed their performance will yield to another group that is on their way to warm-ups. This is great, and it’s part of why I love this activity.

However, there are a few groups out there that elect not to play by the same rules as everyone else. This isn’t the fault of the students or volunteers. This responsibility lies solely on the shoulders of the Band Director.

This starts with using basic reasoning and critical thinking.

“This is a busy walkway. I shouldn’t set up a warm-up arc right here.”

“The stadium is right there. The drumline shouldn’t play here.”

Next is situational awareness.

“A group is warming up right over there. We shouldn’t point all of our speakers towards them.”

“Oh look. Someone else’s truck. We probably shouldn’t block the back in case they need to load or unload.”

Lastly, the Band Director needs to read the show site and tournament information packet and adhere to the contents within that packet.

“That’s not a warm-up zone? We shouldn’t warm-up there.”

“Our warm-up time starts at 8:02 PM? It’s only 7:30 PM now? Let’s wait before we start.”

“We’re in Zone B? We should go to our zone right after the previous group clears out and just before our time slot. “

“This isn’t our zone? It’s someone else’s? Let’s not put our stuff here.”

If a young, 1st-year, band director makes a mistake like this at their first couple competitions, it’s annoying but passable as a learning experience. They probably didn’t mean any harm and are just barely figuring out this logistical nightmare. But 4 years of not reading info packets shows a complete disregard for tournament rules. It also shows disrespect to show hosts who are working hard to accommodate numerous performing ensembles.

I keep getting frustrated because there are a couple high performing ensembles that we keep crossing paths with that I get the sense that they think they’re above the rules. Again, this isn’t the fault of student performers. Their job is to show up and perform their best. That’s awesome. So does that mean that the Directors’ egos are so tightly tied to their ensembles winning that they’re willing to bend as many rules as possible so that their students have an edge over the competition? These band directors need to get their act together, check their egos, and play on the same field as the rest of us. Just because you win doesn’t mean you get to disrespect everyone else.

Band Directors, read the info packet!


Postface: This post isn’t about Westminster HS not making CSBC Finals. Our adjudication panel did their job well, and, despite missing a spot at Finals by 0.1 points, I’m happy with our students’ performance. Capistrano Valley HS was, once again, a great host for the event. We love going here because we know that things will be run well. I was already irked about this issue 2 hours before results were posted. It’s just frustrating to see groups that play fair fail and directors who cheat win.