By Brittany Hanson/Garden Grove Journal
The football field is lit, parents, students, younger siblings and staff file into the stadium all bundled up against the creeping cold mist in the evening.
In the background, percussion begins to rumble to life. Trumpets, clarinets, horns and other instruments soon follow.
Excited children run under the bleachers of Bolsa Grande High School. The murmur of fans rustles louder and louder until it reaches a cacophony, and then the players take the field.
The high school band showcase has begun.
Bolsa Grande, at 9401 Westminster Ave. was the host on Monday to the annual Garden Grove United School District’s High School Marching Band Showcase, a night of pageantry and music.
This is an opportunity for bands to strut their stuff and show what they’ve been working on. They are the center of attention.
Punctuated by the sound of a whistle, the brightly uniformed bands organize and move forward.
For the next two hours, the chilly stadium is filled with bright sounds of brass, the trills of winds, the tats of percussion, twinkles of chimes and the whooshes of colored flags from seven teams.
Those teams brought the music of James Bond, “The Pink Panther, “Alice in Wonderland, Motown, “Star Trek,” The Beatles, “Wicked” and a Vortex of Sound to the playing field.
What is it to be in a band?
Organization, dedication and self-control said Bolsa Grande’s band coach Joe Miller.
“They [band members] learn discipline from being in the band,” said Miller, “ It’s a lot of practice hours and a lot of work designing the show each year.”
Beyond those basics that can come as a part of being in band, being in a school band is creating music and visual entertainment.
Keeping stride, pitch, rhythm and key while running backwards and sideways goes far beyond rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time.
The high school marching band and flag team programs in Garden Grove have a total of 425 participants. The individual schools average over 50 participants, with a total of seven teams; Santiago, La Quinta, Bolsa Grande, Rancho Alamtios, Los Amigos, Garden Grove and Pacifica High Schools.
Miller said that one of the greatest factors in keeping the marching band programs alive were the programs that begin in elementary and middle school.
“Those programs are the ones that feed into high school programs,” said Miller.
Pacifica mom Sandra Chadwell sat in the bleachers with her husband , watching for their daughter, who plays the drums. Both Mr. and Mrs. Chadwell are former marching band members.
“This bringing back memories for me, but then there is all the excitement of watching the kids,” said Sandra. She also commented that the Garden Grove Unified School District was doing a very good job of keeping the music programs alive.
At the end of night, with a chilly mist rising on the field, all the band members march onto the field for one last piece, “America the Beautiful.”
“It’s all about those Ah-ha moments, the one where things really come together,” said Miller, about what it means to teach band, “It doesn’t matter how well your team did overall, it’s when you see a student just get it and begin to understand.”