WBHS hosts Preview of Champions band competition
VINTON–The William Byrd High School “Marching Terriers” band and Band Boosters hosted their 18th annual Preview of Champions event on September 14, 2013. According to Band Director Daniel Plybon, the Preview was started by the late David Vail, a former band director at WBHS.
Preview is generally the first band competition each season in the region. Bands are judged on their musical performance, their marching form and precision, and on general effect (showmanship, guard work, difficulty level, communication with the audience, visuals, and transitions) and given a rating of superior, excellent, or good in the adjudication.
This year eleven bands participated—ten in competition with the Byrd band performing in exhibition at the conclusion of the show. The “Marching Generals” from William Campbell High School, the “Marching Eagles” from Auburn, the “Marching Red Devils” from Rustburg, the “Marching Knights” from James River, and the “Gretna Marching Hawks” competed in the Class A group.
The “Marching Cavaliers” from Lord Botetourt, the “Marching Highlanders” from Glenvar High School, and the “Pride of Floyd County” from Floyd County High School competed in Class AA.
The “Marching Bulldog Band” from Southeast Raleigh High School in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the “Pride of Northside” High School competed in Class AAA.
Class is determined by the size of the band. The smallest bands this year, from William Campbell and James River had 26 members each; the largest band, made up of 101 musicians, was from Southeast Raleigh High School.
This year’s Marching Terrier Band has 92 members with 59 winds, 15 percussion, and a color guard of 18.
Daniel Plybon returns for his eighth year as band director at WBHS. Whitney Puckett is beginning her fifth year as director of the color guard and is also assistant band director this year. Both are instructors at WBHS.
Plybon is a native of Roanoke and was the drum major at Salem High School. He graduated from Radford University, and started his career at Gretna High School and Middle School before returning to Roanoke County Schools as assistant band director at Hidden Valley High School.
He teaches concert, symphonic, and jazz bands, and percussion ensemble at WBHS and also teaches 8th grade band at William Byrd Middle School. In addition, he serves as music director at Campbell Presbyterian Church in Vinton.
Puckett grew up in Blacksburg and graduated from Roanoke College. This is her tenth year as an English teacher at WBHS. She coached color guard at Patrick Henry High School before taking over at WBHS.
This year’s band program is entitled “The Climb of Life,” with music from Cirque du Soleil. According to Plybon, the show takes the audience on a metaphorical journey which portrays the struggle in achieving goals in life. The new program is more intense than last year’s “Salute to Santana,” which was a fun-filled, Latin-flavored show.
“The first song focuses on persistence with a melody that keeps repeating,” said Plybon. “The second selection is fast and upbeat with its theme of pursuing a dream; the third piece is more solemn and almost sorrowful with the idea that life is not always a bed of roses; and the finale provides a bright conclusion symbolizing the burning desire to succeed and the idea that you get out of life what you put into it. You must stay in the fight and never give up.”
“We try to mix it up from year to year so that students can experience different styles of music during their tenure in the band,” said Plybon. “My purpose is to get kids to love music and to realize that music is a lifelong activity and a wonderful and healthy outlet.”
Marching band practice for the new show started in late July for color guard and percussion.
The color guard was chosen last spring in try-outs. Puckett says that students were taught a fundamental routine, and after a week of practice were evaluated on ability, attitude, and coordination of the basic fundamentals. Having a background in dance, she choreographed the color guard routine for the field show.
The entire band attended Home Camp at WBHS during the week of August 5 working on the new music, band fundamentals, and the marching routine. From August 11-17 Away Band Camp was held at Camp Bethel in Fincastle.
During Away Camp, the band spent ten-hour days in rehearsal and team building activities. Plybon says band is definitely a team activity and during the week band members spent time learning how to become better leaders and how to improve the relationships between individual members to become a stronger group.
“Overnight camp provides an opportunity to bond,” said Plybon. “When you spend a week with someone, you get to know them well.”
This year’s student leadership is made up of Corps Commander Nick Peak, Field Conductor Zach Danz, Color Guard Captain Andrea Ashburn, along with Horn Line Captains Nick Peak, Alex Lyons, and Shane McGuire. Percussion Captain is Clayton Whitaker; Amelia Tilley is Front Ensemble Captain; and Maddy Balliett serves as band secretary.
Band parent Jeff Baker is president of the Band Boosters group this year and in charge of the numerous fundraising activities that it takes to raise the thousands of dollars needed for basic operating expenses, band camp, and competitions.
This year’s fundraisers for the Marching Terriers will include the Preview of Champions (their largest fundraiser of the year), a pancake breakfast or two at the Bonsack Applebee’s Restaurant, a fruit sale in the fall, and the sale of Joe Corbi’s pizza kits, pretzels, and cookie dough throughout the school year.
The WBHS band will travel to several Saturday competitions throughout marching band season. They also participate in the Dogwood Festival and Vinton Christmas parades.
This is Baker’s first year as Band Booster president. He says he is involved to “make sure the kids’ experience is one they can remember.”
Jeannie Manning serves as vice president, Amanda Brown as secretary, and Betsy Hamilton as treasurer of the Boosters organization.
Most band parents belong to the group, making it one of the largest booster organizations at Byrd with about 200 members. Band boosters not only raise money but chaperone games and competitions.
The color guard has its own fundraising program because of their higher expenses in purchasing new uniforms, shoes, and supplies like theatrical make-up to match the theme of the performance each year, unlike band members who can wear the same uniforms for several years.
Band becomes all-consuming in the fall with Friday night games and Saturday competitions. Once football season and the new school year begin, band practice is held after school on three afternoons each week. The band performs at all home games and at local away games.
“We have a great band,” said Dr. Richard Turner, principal at WBHS. “Mr. Plybon is an excellent leader. We have supportive parents and dedicated students. We are always represented well by our band.”