It’s going to be spectacular

The A/AA band championships, called the Autumn Spectacular, will bring over 700 musicians to campus on Saturday


Jessica Miller

Madison Hotchkiss (front) and the rest of the band participate in the NWAPA Championship on Nov. 2. The team brought home the title for the 12th time.

By Megan Cavanagh

NOTE: The photo for this story is from the NWAPA Class A/AA Championships in 2019. The photo will be updated on Nov. 1

     For the first time in two years, the marching band is headed to the NWAPA Class A/AA championship, and for the first time ever, they will have the home-team advantage. 

     The NWAPA Autumn Spectacular will be held at Tigard. The event lasts all day. The preliminary rounds begin at 11a.m. and the finals begin at 5 p.m. The band’s first performance will be at 1:15 p.m.

     Marching band director Kati McKee has done much of the planning for the event.

     “It is going to be so much fun to be able to have all of our friends here,” McKee said. “There are going to be 15 groups on campus, over 700 musicians.” 

     With COVID-19 protocols planning events on campus has been particularly complicated. “We are really happy with the way people are coming together to create a great opportunity,” McKee said. “We have had great support from Mr Bailey and the district office to make this happen.”

     The last time the band performed in a championship event was the fall of 2019. In that competition they placed 1st. They have won this competition 13 times, and from 2012 to 2017 they were on a roll of six championships in a row. The program has always been small (class A/AA) but very competitive.

     Back in 2019 there were at least 45 musicians in the band, while this year there are 23. 

     Marching band requires some serious coordination. 

     “It is really hard to talk to the kids about how being musical is as hard as being an athlete,” band director James Irving said. “Not only do you have to play the instrument well, but you also have to move sincerely with the others and stay on time and play the correct notes.”

     There is a lot of time and effort that goes into just one song. They first have to start with marching and learn how to do that, as well as starting to play the music for the first time. In a span of two months, they have to have the drill and music memorized so they can put it all together. After they have everything put together, they will fine-tune any mistakes to make sure it is competition ready. 

     “Preparing, we have eight hours of practice on Mondays and Wednesdays, four hours each day, and we will [clean the drill], in which we take a section of the show and go over that and fine-tune,” junior Miriam Hajdu-Paulen said.

     The band also has to choreograph with the color guard and make sure they raise and lower their instrument in perfect timing with the guard. 

     According to band members it can all be very stressful, but it is a very welcoming community.

     “My favorite part of marching band is the community and how we work together to make something cool; marching band is very unique and the community and the environment is very welcoming,” said junior Laura Taylor. 

     This year is much more stressful for the musicians because they haven’t competed in two years, so there is a lot more pressure to make sure they do well. Some of the musicians use breathing techniques to keep them calm and make sure that the performance jitters don’t get to them. 

     The band has a tradition before performances.

     “Right before the show we get into a group and hype each other up,” Hajdu-Paulen said.

     But some of the best moments for the marching band are the memories and inside jokes they create, to keep the mood light and fun. They also get to see friends and students from other schools.  

     They are performing “Bohemian Rhapsody,” just like they did for the homecoming game, so students who enjoyed that and want to support the marching band and see what other schools do can sign up to volunteer or buy themselves a ticket.

     Ticket  prices for the Autumn Spectacular are $15 for adults, $10 for students and seniors, and a $50 family price.

     Volunteers can follow this link.

     McKee also wanted Tigard to know that she is really hoping to get to the point that band has enough consistent funding that participants do not have to pay, just like the other athletic teams whose pay-to-play fees the school board voted to eliminate.