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FHS Band ‘tops’ at ‘Rocky Top’ festival

What happens in Cumberland County … comes home to Farragut.

Farragut High School Band took its show, “What Happens in Vegas,” on the road Saturday, Sept. 27, to the Upper Cumberland County Marching Band Competition and, although the competition was festival-style and no actual winner was named, the band came away as the superlative band.

“We were the only band all day to receive straight superior ratings in all captions. We received superior ratings in band, when I say band we are talking about overall effect — visual and music — as well as also superior ratings in drum major, color guard and percussion,” Ron Rogers, FHS band director, said.

FHS competed against bands from Harriman, White County, Southwestern, Livingston, Carter, Gibbs, Rhea County, Maryville, Knox Central, Seymour and Cookeville high schools.

For those unfamiliar with the adjudication process for marching band competitions, it can become quite complicated.

“Generally, as far as what you are evaluated on, in music you are evaluated on tone quality, articulation, how well you play together, how well you attack together, how well you release, the band’s sound, and the musicality of the performance,” Rogers said.

“Then you have a mini-contest. You have an effect judge who talks about what you did and how well you were able to connect with the audience.

“Then you have a marching judge who talks about the way the group marches, the way individuals march; hopefully at this point you are not talking about kids out of step, you are actually able to talk about ‘No, I think you need to do this part of your step a little better or this part of your posture a little better.’

“The percussion has a whole other set of things they follow, which almost seems like a foreign language to a non-percussionist. And color guard would be evaluated almost like a dance troupe would be evaluated as far as the choreography, placement, etc… so it can get pretty complicated,” he added.

There are no set rules a band must follow in creating its show, with the exception of time limits — usually no more than 15 minutes from the time the band begins setting up until the last student is off the filed.

“In the older days, in the 1960s and ’70s, almost every marching band show would do a patriotic flag presentation and you would have to go into great detail about how to guard the colors; you would have to play your opener at a certain tempo. Things have changed greatly since then.

“Almost every band has a theme they are trying to convey to the audience, be it said or unsaid, and it is simply the responsibility of the group at that time to make sure their show is written in a way that they can convey their message to the audience and their theme to the judges,” Rogers said.

“What Happens in Vegas” was chosen as a way to teach quality music that would reach multiple audiences.

“As directors here at Farragut High School we came up with a concept a few years ago of ‘entertain outdoors and educate indoors.’

“We tried to do stuff from a music education standpoint that is very sound. We have discovered that we can find the right tunes that the band can enjoy, the audience can enjoy and the judges can enjoy,” Rogers said.

Tunes included in the show are “Strangers in the Night,” “C. C. Rider,” “Luck be a Lady Tonight” and “Viva Las Vegas.”

“We thought the two or three most iconic figures in Vegas were Elvis, the Rat Pack and Frank Sinatra,” Rogers said.


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