Musicians prepare for contest during Irving Band Festival

Photo: Drum majors from Nimitz, Irving and MacArthur high schools lead their respective bands in a performance at the annual Irving ISD Band Festival. The drum majors are (from left) Jesus Torres, Samantha Carranza and Sarah West of Nimitz High School; Ricardo Vega, Kim Tran and Paola Puentes of Irving High School; and Chris De La Torre and David Cardenas of MacArthur High School. /Courtesy Photo

More than 1,000 student musicians played their instruments during the 34thannual Irving ISD Band Festival at the Irving School Stadium on Tuesday, Oct. 4.

The festival featured eight middle school bands and three high school bands from Irving ISD.

Director Jeff King from the Fine Arts Department also brought in three adjudicators to judge the Nimitz, Macarthur and Irving High School Bands’ performances.

“The Irving Band Festival gives our students a chance to perform in a “UIL atmosphere;” same rules, same timing, and with judges providing critique,” Daniel Grant, the Irving High School band director said. “It also gives our parents and friends a chance to see the show at no charge. We showcased the marching competition shows of all three Irving high schools, and then concluded with a “mass band” performance by all three high schools and eight middle school bands: over 1000 students.”

With the Region 20 Marching contest scheduled to take place at Duncanville High School on Oct. 15, the festival gives students from Irving, MacArthur and Nimitz a chance to gauge where they stand.

“We had three judges who gave us comments and things to work on and look to improve on. It really helped getting the three judges’ comments,” Darrin Duff, the MacArthur High School band director said. “The judges were at the top of the press box similar to a position that the judges will be at UIL region.”

Each high school has about three to four band competitions a year. The district is responsible for recording each performance and commentary from the panel of adjudicators.

“We show our students the video. Just like a football coach would show their team video, we stop, and rewind, and slow down, and show things that could be done better,” Duff said. “We also take the judges’ tapes and have the students listen to those depending on how much time we have to do that. The directors all listen to the judges’ videos and take notes.”

This year’s festival was a little different from the events in the past because of the participation of the middle school students who were able to join in a mass performance of the song, Party Rock Anthem.

“This is the first time we’ve tried the format of having the middle schools on the field. I think most of us liked that format better, and I think the audience did too,” Duff said. “We definitely want it to be a recruiting tool for [the students] so they can continue to perform in band, and when they get to high school, [they will] want to pursue band as well. [Students] don’t have marching in middle school, and it’s a really neat part of band that they will get a chance to do when they are freshmen.”

According to Duff, the mass performance was only rehearsed a few times before the actual event.

“We rehearsed it at certain tempos, and we all knew about it ahead of time. We got together to rehearse for about 45 minutes, then the festival started, so we had a little rehearsal and went over the procedures beforehand,” he said.

Grant added that the successes Mac Arthur and the schools of Irving have enjoyed starts at the top.

“Irving’s recent success with all the fine arts stems from a combination of several good decisions by the Administration and Fine Arts Departments, which has had a positive effect on the teachers and students,” Grant said.