Picayune band setting the standard

Published 7:00 am Saturday, November 9, 2019

The Maroon Tide marching band has been working for months on this year’s halftime show to make it ready for football games and a plethora of competitions.

Over the weekend the musicians traveled to the state competition with 10 other bands.

In order to qualify for the state competition a band had to receive an overall superior ranking at the regional competition.

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It’s no easy feat, as evidenced by the fact that only 10 bands in the entire state of Mississippi qualified for the competition.

While at the championships over the weekend the band placed 8th, but there was only a 2.625 point difference between Picayune’s score and the fourth place score.

Such a small margin shows how close the Maroon Tide was from placing even higher and Band Director John Cockrell said he was pleased with the band’s performance.

“This is by far the best we’ve ever done, I don’t even know if the band even went to championships before. We’re really proud of it,” Cockrell said.

It was the last marching competition for the band, but that doesn’t mean things are slowing down for Cockrell and his musicians.

Everyone is currently preparing for the Christmas Parade, Christmas Concert and a whole new halftime performance, which will be shorter than the competition show.

Just because marching season is ending doesn’t mean the workload decreases.

“Everybody is like ‘Hey you get break.’ No, there’s no such thing. Most people have no clue what we’re even doing or that that’s what is demanded of a band student,” Cockrell said.

All of that will take place before Christmas break and when the musicians return they’ll start preparing for concert season.

Cockrell said concert shows have just as much pressure, if not more, than halftime performances.

“You can get away with some musical things on the field with distance and everything, but when you’re on the stage you can’t,” Cockrell said.

For concert shows not only is the band judged on the music, but also the sight reading ability of the musicians.

Sight reading is a test where a new piece of music is presented to a band and the musicians have 10 minutes to familiarize themselves with the piece without playing it.

Then a judge will call time and the musicians will be tasked with playing the piece of music to perfection.

Cockrell said that at last year’s concert evaluation his band got all superiors for its performance, but got ones and twos on the sight reading aspect.

Because of that, Cockrell will be honing in on that aspect of the evaluation to improve upon last year’s results.

Cockrell said the band has never been a sweepstakes award winner and his musicians are working towards that goal. A sweepstakes award is presented to bands who receive all superiors in the marching competition, stage evaluation and sight reading.

“Currently we’re still in the running, so that’s what we’re trying to do this year,” Cockrell said.