By Tyler BIDDLE
This year the instrumental musicians at Crescenta Valley High School have taken on some new challenges and they aren’t nearly done yet. Two weeks ago, they competed in their first SCJA championships where they placed fifth overall and earned the highest of the musical performance scores in their division. Now they are poised to move on to the Hollywood Christmas Parade on Dec. 1 and the holiday parade at Disney’s California Adventure on Dec. 11, both of which they are participating for the first time.
Forging these new paths is Mathew Schick, the instrumental music teacher at CV, who has been working since mid-October to teach the different groups their holiday music.
The bands prepared for the SCJA championships by competing in the qualifying rounds where they scored high enough to be accepted. The championships were held at West Valley High School and resulted in respectable showings in multiple categories including the drumline and pit percussion groups placing third overall out of 46 bands. Not bad for the first try!
“We want to make this a new tradition,” said Schick. “Next year we will do one more qualifying competition so that we are really ready when the championships happen.”
At the Hollywood Christmas Parade on Dec 1, the CV marching band will be escorting the Thomas the Tank Engine balloon along a three-mile route on Hollywood Boulevard.
“I’ve always seen the Hollywood Christmas Parade on TV,” said Schick. “I thought, well we could definitely do that.” It has been a desire of his for years to get his students into the parade but it just never happened due to the sizable entrance fee that is normally required to get in. This year, however, the organizers were so impressed with their submissions that they waived the fees.
They will be playing a unique marching band rendition of the classic Thomas the Tank Engine theme. The arrangement was developed in collaboration with the original British composer of the classic children’s tune and Schick himself. It is a brand new piece of music created exclusively for the CVHS marching band.
“It is an honor,” said Schick with regards to updating the classic piece for modern audiences. “My kids grew up on Thomas the Tank Engine.”
At the Montrose Christmas Parade on Dec. 7 and the California Adventure Parade on Dec 11, the marching band will be playing a collection of classic Christmas songs and arrangements. One piece, entitled “An American Christmas,” has a mixture of classics bringing pieces like “Stars and Stripes Forever” and “Jingle Bells” together in harmony. The students will go to California Adventure for free, paid by special programs put on by the park to promote and feature local artists.
“Parades are a very valuable learning experience for the kids,” said Schick. The students have to perfect their music in a dynamic and noisy outdoor environment all while keeping their bodies marching.
“It can be a real test of stamina,” said Denise Pearson, a vice president of the CV Instrumental Music program and band mom herself. “Some of them have to carry 40 pound snare drums. Its a work out.”
The holiday season continues with the all-encompassing Winter Concert in the CV Auditorium on Dec. 13. All of the instrumental musical groups will be featured including jazz band, marching band, string orchestra, symphony orchestra and wind ensemble. The Winter Concert is unique in that it truly showcases the differences in style and technique between these different groups rather than blending them all together as a group. Each has its own unique sound and visual presentation.
Songs in the Winter Concert will include “Let It Snow,” selections from The Nutcracker, and even a Broadway jazz rendition of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” The auditorium will also be fully decked out with tinsel and holiday decorations. In case you missed the parades, marching band will be performing its full repertoire at the Winter Concert, marching down the aisles of the auditorium.
The marching band will be parading at Hollywood on Dec 1 at 6 p.m., at the Montrose Parade on Dec 7, and the Winter Concert on Dec 13 at 7 p.m. with tickets at $5 for students and $8 for adults. As always, ticket revenues goes back into supporting the music program at CV for things like instrument repairs, tuxedos, sheet music and the instruments themselves some of which can cost thousands of dollars.