On Saturday, November 1st, the West Bloomfield Marching Band and Color Guard competed at Ford Field at the Michigan Competing Band Association (MCBA) State Championship.
West Bloomfield High School (WBHS) placed ninth in its flight with a score of 88.125 points. The flight (division) that WBHS was part of was made up of twelve different Michigan school bands. “We prepared for [competition season] really by just starting way back when we began in July and really putting all the effort we could into every rehearsal to try to prepare,” marching band director and WBHS teacher Chad Mielens commented on preparation of season. Students start their marching band journeys by auditioning for different parts of the marching band in May, and have a performance for Memorial day in May as well. The students then take a break until mid-July, which is when summer practices start. Marching band members practice for the rest of the summer, for 6 hours every week day, go to a summer marching band camp, and then have three weekly three hour rehearsals during the school year, and practice on the non-competition Saturdays.
According to Mielens, “The marching band participated in four Michigan Competing Band Association (MCBA) competitions, that’s our local circuit. We also participated in what they call Bands of America Regionals Competition in Dayton, Ohio. Then we also competed at MCBA State Finals, so we had six shows.” This is Mielens’ first year directing the marching band alone, however, previously he co-directed the marching band for three years. Mielens has also taught several summer marching band programs in Michigan, and was a drum major in college for three years. He said, “I really enjoy working with the kids and the staff here, and the students are all really hardworking. I enjoy working with the people here the most.”
When asked about what is so special about the WBHS Marching Band, Mielens said, “I really think the comradery of the students, the bond the students end up developing with each other, is the most special thing about what we do. There are a lot of bands that, I believe create a family atmosphere, but especially this year, the students really bonded with each other, really created a connection.”
Students involved in marching band enjoyed their season, from the color guard to the pit. Color guard member Paige Sutherlin, freshman, said, “I loved all of the friendships we made, it was like a big family.” WBHS’ color guard is led by Mark DeDeckere, a Western Michigan University graduate who has been involved with our color guard for two years. The color guard usually practices after school every day, and practice once a week in the summer months (May, June, and July). Starting in August, the color guard practiced on the same schedule as the Marching Band. According to Dedeckre, “West Bloomfield is ‘raising the bar’ for color guard and winter guard in the state!”
Sutherlin and Eleanor Goldkamp, fresmen, say that they have made lots of friends through marching band. Horn line member Goldkamp says, “I liked making friends through marching band!”
If you are interested in supporting WBHS’ marching band, color guard and winter guard, check out their website, http://wbbands.info/!