Despite losing out on the 2020-21 marching season due to COVID-19, the Carroll High School Marching Band is encouraging everyone to rise up in 2021.
“We Rise” is the name of the band’s show for the 2021-22 marching season.
“Rising up is about when you get knocked down in life, you have a couple of choices,” said band director Doug Hassell. “You can either get back up or stay there. Getting back up is about overcoming adversity.”
Hassell said the band was set to perform a similar show in 2020-21 but then the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“Then COVID-19 hit and we all understood adversity in ways we never knew we could,” he said. “It became incredibly relevant and that’s the show we didn’t want to do last year because we believed in it so much.”
Hassell said they took time to revise elements in the show and have been working on it since the third week of July.
“We’re using an excerpt from a poem by Maya Angelou called ‘Still I Rise,’” he said. “When the group first comes to the field, you hear some almost ominous sounds coming from the front percussion area and Katy Perry’s ‘Rise’ begins playing with an interview Maya Angelou did about the poem so there’s a dialogue that sets the stage.”
The show is put together in three parts, Hassell said.
“The first part is about that thing,” he said. “It’s subjective. We can all relate to something that breaks us down. Right away, the music is very loud, intense and rhythmic. It’s not comfortable and it’s intentionally not comfortable. It’s very hard to play.”
When that section is complete, Hassell said the band picks up the pace and plays faster and the music is even more intense.
“It actually feels very frantic towards the end of the first part and then it comes together and it just keeps going and going,” he said. “Finally, when it gets to the end, it’s like ‘Woah, what just happened?’ and it’s very intense.”
The second part of the show is centered around Perry’s song “Rise.”
“It’s very beautiful,” Hassell said. “There are some really great vocal samples that are used and it’s just very ethereal, like we’re floating. It’s almost like when you see something in the fog and you can’t tell what it is and slowly the fog clears and you can see it. That’s how the music evolves.”
Hassell said the climax of the show involves the color guard with an explosion of color. Hassell called it “breathtaking.”
“Whenever we go through these things of adversity, we might go into them individually but it’s working together that we come out of them,” he said.
The band is using a clarinet solo by senior band member and co-drum major Brian Cooper.
With the first part of the show being about adversity and the second part being about overcoming adversity, the band rounds out the performance with the feeling after overcoming adversity.
“We’re using music from the movie ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ with a piece of music called ‘Test Drive,’” Hassell said. “Originally we were going to use ‘Stairway to Heaven’ but in the spring we listened to it and thought that song didn’t quite fit.”
Hassell said he believes the show will be a crowd favorite that will cause the audience to rise out of their seats at the end.
“I’m just excited to see the show,” he said. “Last year, we ended up playing music but we didn’t have any movement. Every year we are excited to see it but this year it’s special.”
According to Hassell, there were a lot of tears at the Aug. 20 football game after the performance.
“Knowing that kids can have that experience and seeing that as a group, I think that’s the best part,” he said.
The marching band season ends at the end of October, beginning of November. Hassell said the band directors begin coming up with ideas for the next season during that time.
“We take a couple of weeks to step away and evaluate the last performance with what went well and what didn’t go well,” he said. “There are always a couple of question marks and we want to make sure that we evaluate that.”
Hassell said they also begin looking at the group they’re going to have during the next season and discern the strengths and weaknesses.
“Usually in late November and December we begin to come up with ideas and a lot of it is just text messages with the staff,” Hassell said. “We bring our ideas to the table and one of those will spark a larger idea.”
Hassell said in January the band directors and staff come up with the show idea. Once that happens, Hassell will begin working with the primary arranger.
“From the time he starts that, usually within about a month, we have a rough draft,” he said. “We will take that rough draft and decide if it’s good or if there’s anything that needs to be changed.”
Once changes are made, the draft is sent to the percussion arrangers. The two arrangers will go back and forth with each other until it is ready.
The sound engineer will then plug in a digital recording of the show.
“We take all of the information and then send it to our visual designer and he begins writing the drill,” Hassell said. “The entire show is around a 10 month process.”
Once the drill is complete, the choreographers come in and work with color guard, which typically happens during band camp, according to Hassell.
The first competition the band will be competing in will be on Sept. 11 at Goshen High School. CHS will perform at 9:45 p.m.