BY TOBY PITAN & MAN NGUYEN
This spring, the students of the MHS Concert/Marching Band participated in the Music at the Park competition. This was a positive experience for band members and teachers alike due to the learning experiences it provided them with.
Band director Erin O'Brien-Mazza described how their experience in the competition was great because their preparation that had begun from as early as January had culminated in a successful performance. O'Brien-Mazza was glad that after two years of pushing the band hard, they were able to reap the rewards of having a huge win for their team and school. She voiced that the win came as a bit of a shock despite the confidence that the students all had in themselves as the band did run into some issues prior to the competition. O'Brien-Mazza explained how she had to rewrite the sheet music for some instruments that were not covered. Still, The band’s key focus was bringing themselves together and to be able to successfully work alongside each other. Ultimately, she added that her students definitely deserved to win due to the practice they had put in outside of school and their commitment to their individual work.
She also contributes a large part of the band’s success to their section leaders. The band is divided based on what instrument one plays. Section leaders are basically captains for each group of instruments. These section leaders carry out a lot of the work and individual practice within their group and ensure that their fellow group members are working well. They were a very integral part of the competition and the band as a whole. O'Brien-Mazza also said that she learned a lot about this particular experience. She also mentioned that teaching band here was a transition as she has been teaching here for only three years.
Many band members voiced their experiences at the competition and reflected upon their experiences as participants in the competition. Freshman Kevin Fuentes explained that “[they] knew what [they] were doing” and that they had been practicing for weeks so they felt calm entering the competition. Fuentes added that he was elated that the band was able to achieve that level of success considering how few members they have. He also explained how their band director played a significant role in nurturing the band program to be where it is today and thus they were able to overcome the disadvantage in number. Fuentes also felt “shocked and surprised” at their win due to the fact that they were competing against “heavily funded” schools. Their win was “truly a moment of joy”. He added that determination and perseverance were key parts to their placement in the competition. There were a few minor hitches such as organizing their sound to make it more balanced, and rewriting sheet music but they were able to handle these issues well. Lastly he adds that “the work...the dedication [and]...faith” that O'Brien-Mazza puts into the band is as the reason why they are “so motivated to work hard and do what [they] do”.
Junior Naomi Brill, who has been participating in band since she was in the fourth grade added that “it felt pretty good bringing home the trophy”. She explains how in the past they placed second, or received a bronze medal in third, so “going in and getting first place was...exciting”. She also added that the win gave the band a boost of confidence and credits the president of band senior Megan Melanson and O'Brien-Mazza as crucial parts to their success.
A final band member, sophomore Sebastian Romani explained that “the whole trip was amazing” and that he “loved being with the band every second of it”. He added that this year the band was able to accomplish a lot. He thought this year would be “very rigorous” but instead found his experience to be “pretty lenient”. He felt that the band was able to win due to their “new and complete sound” and that they “definitely deserved this win”. He added that they had new freshman and upperclassmen so they were able to work on rebuilding themselves starting with this win. From being a band member he learned personally that “you can’t do everything yourself” and that each part comes together to “make one beautiful sound”.
Overall, many band members as well as the director felt that this was a very encouraging experience for the band. The band has grown greatly in the past few years and this victory at MICCA was a huge indicator of it.
Correction: A earlier version of this had the title 'MHS Band Takes First Place at MICCA'