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Picayune band adding intricacies to show

The Maroon Tide band has been busy participating in competitions across the state to prepare for the state evaluation.

Each contest gives the musicians the opportunity to get used to playing in a competition setting, while also allowing Band Director John Cockrell to take the judges’ comments and implement them into the show.

The most recent competition for the band took place last Saturday at the regional marching evaluation in Gulfport, Miss.

Picayune’s performance earned the band all superior rankings, the first time the band accomplished that level since 2015.

However, Cockrell said the performance could still be improved upon, and a major area of focus for the band has been fundamentals.

Things like posture, footwork, breath support and other minute details can make all the difference in a band’s performance.

“The kids realize that we’re there. We’ve just got to give the extra effort because the band who gives the most effort will score the highest,” Cockrell said.

Within the band there are a variety of captains who are in charge of making sure their section is performing up to standards.

Choosing the captains is a process where candidates are interviewed, write an essay and lead a rehearsal with Cockrell watching on.

Cockrell said this year’s group of captains has done a good job of keeping everyone on task, while also mentioning the low brass section and drum line have improved massively.

With the band being such a large collective, it’s important everyone is on beat, a hard task even for musicians in a small four piece band.

There is a phenomenon in large band performances called time phasing.

Because it takes time for sound to travel, a musician must hit a note at a specific point in the song, so the full range of a song hits the audience at the same time.

However, there can be times when one section’s sound hits before another, which is where time phasing comes into play.

Cockrell said the band has been hard at work to minimize the amount of times time phasing occurs, but because of the randomness of it happening it’s hard to find a solution.

“It’s not something that happens every time, so you can’t pinpoint it and fix it,” Cockrell said.

The band is also looking to add general effects to the show.

General effects, or GEs as Cockrell calls them, are purposeful body movements musicians can make while standing still and playing.

An extension of a leg, a slight turn, these little details added to performances can increase a band’s score, and that’s why Cockrell has been having Band Assistant Allen Grace work with the musicians on that skill.

“If a band is standing still then they’re not capitalizing on things they could be doing. That’s something we’re adding and want them to do well,” Cockrell said.

Grace is working with the musicians to make sure the musical aspect of the performance doesn’t suffer when the general effects are added to the show.

Cockrell wants the sound to be consistent, no matter what each musician is doing and the only way to perfect it is to practice.

“If you don’t do the GE well people are going to hear your feet movement through your sound,” Cockrell said.

The next competition for the band will be the Marching Championships on Nov. 2 in Pearl, Miss.

Cockrell said the show can still be improved, and he’ll use the judges’ feedback to make more alterations. “We’re trying to add nuances to it to make it better. The whole point of going to an earlier contest is so the judges can say ‘I’d add something here,’” Cockrell said.