Sunday, September 24, 2006

Home Again

Dave and I arrived home this afternoon. Therefore, I thought it would be appropriate to post some photos that were made in Virginia. The middle photo is a farm that was located just outside of our campground in Harrisonburg. This is typical of the gorgeous scenery in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.

We had a very enjoyable vacation that ended with us spending most of a day at a marching band clinic/competition. We initially intended to go just to take photos. Those plans were scrapped when Dave got an email saying that our services were needed on the pit crew.

High school marching band pit crews are composed primarily of parents who transport the large percussion instruments, sound equipment, etc., from the high school to the marching venue. In addition to loading and unloading stuff from a semi-trailer, the parents transport the stuff to and from the field and assist in setting up and taking down the stuff on the field. Most of the hauling is done with golf carts and flatbed trailers.

Our percussion pit consists of three timpani, several marimbas, xylophones and vibraphones, chimes, assorted cymbals, woodblocks, etc. In short, stuff that is way too large, heavy or cumbersome for students to carry on the field. This year's show also uses a sound system, as the show opens with a short taped monologue and includes a couple of singing segments. Also, since the theme for this year's show is baseball, we have two "dugouts" from which the color guard members emerge at the beginning of the show. These are cloth constructions on light aluminum frames. Everything I've described thus far is what is included in the "front pit," which is located in front of the marching band, near the drum major's stands. Oh yeah, the parents transport and assemble those too.

In addition to the front pit described above, this year's program includes a "back pit" which is something to behold! In keeping with the baseball theme, we haul and assemble a 30-yard long scoreboard and outfield fence, complete with advertisements and foul poles. The main scoreboard is a wooden contraption, topped with a clock, that's about 10-15 yards long. This thing weighs about 800 pounds, is built onto a flatbed trailer, and is hauled around the field with a reinforced golf cart. The outfield fence, made of cloth, attaches to the wooden scoreboard and is unfurled to attach to painted PVC foul poles on both sides of the scoreboard. This is assembled behind the marching band and is therefore called the "back pit." Since I was working the back pit yesterday, I didn't get any pictures of it. Dave got a really nice one - I'll have to get him to post it on his blog.

If you've read through and digested all of this information, you may be surprised to know that all of these pits and props need to be hauled onto the field and assembled in 2-3 minutes. Then, when the show is over, we get another 2-3 minutes to dismantle everything and haul it away again. Also, the band gets a certain amount of time to complete their show in competitions. If they exceed their time limit, points are deducted from their score. The clock begins as soon as anyone steps over the sideline into the field of play. So, when parents are scrambling around assembling stuff, they have to be careful not to step over the line and cause the clock to start too early. All in all, working the pit keeps one pretty busy. Nevertheless, I'm sure that Dave and I will be posting lots of marching band photos in the coming days.


Joanne said...

So , how did Josh's band do in the competetion?

Evie Sears said...

They won several awards in their category, but did not win the Grand Prize. All in all, a pretty good showing, but not outstanding. Sometimes that's a good thing, though, because they'll be motivated to keep working hard. If they win too much too early they get lackadaisical.

Barbara said...

That's a lot of work when all is said and done, but I'm sure it is a great show to watch and well worth all the effort everyone needs to put into it.