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Marching band takes a different road

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Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. ”

— Robert Frost

During marching season, this year’s theme is “The Road Not Taken,” based on the poem by Robert Frost.  

Each year band and orchestra teacher, Mike Lebrias, has directed, the band has performed a set theme such as 80s music, Les Misérables and the Black Parade album by My Chemical Romance. However, this year the band is taking a new approach.  

Choosing a direction

“It was all part of one central theme, [The Road Not Taken] is more like an idea and feeling,” Lebrias said. “We can consider it a theme because it is all based on the poem, but the music is all different, it’s not from the same time period.”  

While on the internet looking for themes, Lebrias found all of the music composed by Chris Cresswell on his website. He chose the theme of “The Road Not Taken,” because he thought it was relatable. 

“It’s about the road that we currently are on and the road that we could have taken,” Lebrias said. “The road not taken is not necessarily about second-guessing yourself, but more along the lines of thinking what could have been if you had gone on that path. For me, when it comes to following your passion you should always follow that passion, there might be things along the way that stray you away from there but at the end of the day I am always going to follow my passion: teaching music.” 

Discovering themselves

By taking the road less traveled, junior Simone Francis believes one discovers who he or she is.   

“I think people will learn how much they can handle, what they can go through, who their friends are and find their strength,” she said.  

The songs include Demons by Imagine Dragons, A Thousand Airplanes on a Roof by Phillip Glass and Unsteady by X Ambassadors.  

Lebrias said that the music creates and embodies the feeling of uneasiness.  

“The opening and closing song Demons describes what’s on the inside,” he said. “A thousand airplanes on a roof doesn’t keep a steady time, it’s not just 4/4 time, there are a lot of time changes and choreography that’s going on. It’s more of a visual slash musical thing to illustrate it’s not exactly a steady path.” As for the song unsteady, Lebrias said the meaning is self-explanatory. 

According to Lebrias, the songs are modified from the original. “[Crisswell] spins it where it sounds different so it fits our activity more rather than just playing an arrangement that doesn’t fit,” he said.  

Stepping it up

This year the band will do more Drum Corp International (DCI) music. DCI produces themes for student ensembles that are more complex and interpretive like the new music. 

“It’s definitely different than the past, we’ve been doing very pop stuff recently but this year it’s more competitive,” junior David Ma said.  

For junior Joshua Cox, the new music is more enjoyable.  

“This year it’s a lot more modern and I think the band definitely seems to like it more and it shows through the sound, we sound a lot better than previous years in my opinion,” he said. “People are very energetic about it and the mood is just a lot happier.”  

On the other hand, freshman Ian Smith likes the music from middle school the best. 

Not the biggest fan

“It’s a different change of pace because in middle school we only played classical music, but now I’m playing all types of modern music,” he said. “I think I like the classical better.” 

Unlike past years, visuals include props and eight-foot by eight-foot backdrops that depict a wood setting at dusk.  During the performances, there will be voiceovers of the poem. 

“How we illustrate the music isn’t just how we play,” Lebrias said. “The band has some visuals while they play to convey the emotions of the music. It’s more of a storytelling thing.” 

New skills

The band is also learning fundamental dance skills such as the sashay and the plié to incorporate in the performances.  

“It’s not necessarily that I want them to be good singers or dancers I just want them to put 110 percent into everything they do,” Lebrias said. “I want them to be able to go all out for any task that is given to them. They’re becoming better human beings, not just dancers.”  

Much of the band has never taken a dance class. However, senior Michelle Frost said that the dances are manageable.  

“It’s not just dancing, it’s really being expressive and helping to cheer up the school,” she said.  

Because there will be fewer breaks between songs, Lebrias said the performance is also more like a show. 

“[The composer] strings all three songs together in a way that sounds really cohesive,” Lebrias said. “It’s more of a full production, seven minutes, without stopping, rather than here’s this song and here’s this song.”  

This year, Lebrias’s goal was to challenge the students.  

“We’re adding more stuff to the show, so we can put ourselves in a situation where we get better because we are stepping out of our comfort zone,” he said. “At the end of it, I just want them to get out of we worked really hard for this and we spent so much attention to detail to be proud of what we did.” 

Marching band practices before their first game of the season.
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