Marching Bulldogs Blow Away the Competition

The Gathering 2021- Best in Class A Percussion Trophy

Photo courtesy of drumline member Luiza Douglas

The Gathering 2021- Best in Class A Percussion Trophy

Toby Russell, Staff Writer

On Saturday the 25 of September, Chamblee’s very own marching band made the trip out to Douglas County High School to compete against other schools from across the south for their season’s first competition at The Gathering. They competed in a day-long event, showing off their skills in music and movement in their show titled, Games. The work paid off, and the marching bulldogs returned home with superior ratings and two awards: best in class for percussion and best in class for overall band.

“For the first competition of the year, no band is going to be perfect. But I think what we did showed a lot of progress from where we started and I was happy with our run of the show,” said Brian Ely, the assistant band director.

Band president Eric Baker (‘22) oversees more logistical matters for the band, including helping to organize the season as a whole.

“I’m a senior, [and] we’ve never placed before. So getting best in class, full band, and percussion was really a culture shift from what we usually do. I was ecstatic when that happened,” said Baker.

The band suffered from bus shortages on the day of the competition, causing stress when it came to transportation arrangements.

“It was kind of chaotic getting there, ‘cuz like a whole section of the band didn’t have buses. […] A lot of people showed up late, but we still got two trophies.” said percussion section leader Chris McIntosh (‘22). “I was honestly surprised by it. I didn’t feel personally that I did very good, but I guess the judges were impressed. We have been working hard throughout the season [and] the work paid off,”

Others believe that the competition serves as a good benchmark for the band’s improvement.

“It was a solid run. Nothing went egregiously bad […] and we sounded pretty good, too,” said drum major William Emde (‘22). “I think we earned both of them. Percussion did really well so I’m glad they earned a percussion [award].”

While the band did better than others in their class, they also beat their own past scores.

“I think winning is the wrong term. Because […] we just compete against ourselves. We just try to get better than we were the last time that we performed,” said Emde.

This isn’t the last competition of the semester and the band hopes to out-compete themselves again.

“I don’t want to stop there. We have another competition at the end of October, and I’d love it if we could do better,” said Baker.

As the band marches onward towards future competitions, they hope to improve their current show.

“We will have the same show, most of what we’re going to do is just clean it up and make it look better,” said Emde. “There’s little things we need to fix and there’s concepts we need to work on.”

The band has less than a month before their next competition, yet wants to greatly improve.

“We have another [competition] in about a month. Things we’re gonna work on include fixing our intervals, that being the spacing between people, making sure that’s cleaned up and, […] work[ing] on our marching technique […] because there’s some technical issues where we can improve across the board,” said Ely. “Musically, we can do a better job of shaping the music and just making it just […] more appealing to the listeners.”

The season looks bright for the marching bulldogs; they have set a firm foundation and all they have left to do is finish out strong.

“What we’re doing, it’s working,” said Baker. “Just don’t stop now.”

Update:

The Chamblee Marching Bulldogs attended their second and last competition, the Strong Rock Classic Competition, on October 23. Like the first competition, buses never arrived to take the students to competition, continuing the theme of bus shortages in DeKalb. The Marching Bulldogs received numerous awards. The band, aka winds, received first in class. The color guard received second in class. The percussion received first in class and third in the overall competition. The entire ensemble won first in class overall.

Colleen Marin, Chamblee’s marching band director, believes that the band showed great progress from the end of the year.

“The progress and their level of performance this year, as compared to literally any other year that I’ve been teaching here, is just 1000 levels above,” said Marin. “The work ethic and everything that you need to have a successful season […] was all in place.”

The band learned from their past performances.

“What we do after we do any kind of show, whether it’s a competition or football game, we take the next rehearsal and we watch the video, […] and we have a focus for that rehearsal,” she said.

Most importantly, the band made the show something important to them.

“The amount of ownership they took between the two competitions was amazing, it’s [theirs]” said Marin. “Those last two performances, Homecoming [and] senior night […], they took very personally.”

For future years, student leadership will prepare the incoming “rookies” for their band season.

“[They] are all now leaders to the new students coming in,” she said. “That can fall into a big category of culture […] of excellence or pride. […] But when I talk to the students, it’s just about ‘What do you want your band to look like?’”