Marching for victory
WHITEWATER Minutes before the 81-member Whitewater High School Marching Band showed off its talent Saturday in state competition, members tossed around much good-natured banter and received a few words of encouragement from their leader.
“This is to be the best performance you possibly can do,” said Director Don Deal. “We started in June and had seven-hour rehearsals in August. Sell the show. Have fun with it.”
And they did.
Competing in the 23rd Annual Wisconsin School Music Association State Marching Band Championships at UW-Whitewater’s Forrest Perkins Stadium, the Whitewater band’s well-choreographed show had drama, adventure and a touch of love.
The show, “Beatles a la Jazz,” took fifth place in competition against 36 high school bands from across the state.
“I was pleased with their performance,” Deal said.
The band has earned a reputation for excellence, having won first place in both of the previous competitions it entered this year.
The Whitewater competition was the biggest one yet, Deal said.
Eight judges score bands on both music and marching talents, Deal said.
Being a member of a marching band takes a big commitment, he said.
It also takes perseverance.
The worst sunburn Matthew Kilpin ever got was on his knuckles while playing his saxophone with the marching band, the 18-year-old Whitewater High School senior said.
Still, Kilpin wouldn’t consider not being a member of the band. His enthusiasm appeared contagious. While waiting to perform, Kilpin kept his peers entertained with quick-witted comments, laughter and a genuine smile.
Any student can join the marching band.
For Jesus Rodriguez, a 17-year-old junior, playing the drums in the Whitewater band has been one of the best experiences of his life, he said.
“I love it,” Rodriguez said.
One more trait members of the marching band need is team spirit.
Adam Triebold, a 16-year-old junior, has that covered.
“We got on the morning announcement to tell people to come to the competition today, and we handed out little fliers that said come because we rock,” Triebold said.
Marching band students don’t necessarily need to be is in excellent physical shape, Deal said.
“We have kids in pretty much the spectrum (of physical shape),” Deal said. “At the end of the season, they’re all in better shape.”
The band started learning the music in June, had four or five more rehearsals in July and, by August, rehearsals had become serious business. Three days of seven-hour rehearsals were like a boot camp, Deal said.
And the past two weeks, the band has practiced seven days a week, Deal said.
When Garret Witterholt broke his knee during a dirt bike accident, the 14-year-old freshman had to sit out the first three or four weeks of band practice, he said.
After healing enough to rejoin the band, Witterholt said he came back hobbling.
“But I’m a trooper,” he said.
And so were they all.