Picayune band still expanding its show

Published 3:01 pm Thursday, September 5, 2019

Including the sets, props, dancers, color guard members and musicians, there’s a lot that goes into a band’s halftime show.

For Picayune Memorial High School, the band, and other groups are still working on fine-tuning their show. The band has been able to perform a couple of times in front of audiences, and Band Director John Cockrell said that he’s seen improvement just in the few shows the band performed.

“The music improved, the footwork and posture was a little better,” Cockrell said. “But that still needs improvement, so it’s good to see but is nowhere near where we need to be.”

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The show this year is based on a circus theme, and because of that the band has to find music that fits the theme and a physical performance to accompany the music.  That’s a lot to keep in mind for the newer band members, and Cockrell said that in those performance situations anxiety could set it for the youngsters.

“It’s a little intimidating when you’re out on the field, and you’re looking at all these people who are looking at you,” Cockrell said. However, the halftime shows and other community events where the band performs are just warm-ups for competition season.

Cockrell wants his band to be perfect, and so even with competition still a long way out, he’s starting to build the blocks of success for his band members.

Competitions include multiple judges who have specific things they’re looking for.

There will be a judge in the press box above the band, and then one or two more judges on the field walking through the band’s formation as they perform.

The musicians know that their every move is being watched, and Cockrell said that could negatively affect some of his band members.

“You have to pretend the judge is not there,” Cockrell said. “You can’t let that throw you off.”

In order to battle that anxiety, Cockrell holds his band members to competition standards from the beginning of the year, so that when the time comes to perform for the judges the musicians don’t think about what they’re doing. To get to that point, Cockrell said there is still a lot of work to be done. A point of emphasis for Cockrell is the band’s timing.  As the musicians watch the drum majors for instructions on timing, the instruments at the front of the formation in the pit must know to delay their notes to match up with the drum line behind them.

The reason for this is that if the pit musicians don’t wait until they hear the drums to play their part, then the timing will be off.