Dutchtown Sound kicks off 2014 with ‘Picture This’ halftime show

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
On the evening of Friday, Aug. 15, Dutchtown Sound gave a preview performance for parents and staff in the school’s gymnasium, followed by a celebration.

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, but the Dutchtown Sound fall halftime show is worth much more. This year, the Dutchtown High School marching band is asking spectators to “Picture This.” On the evening of Friday, Aug. 15, the band gave a preview performance for parents and staff in the school’s gymnasium, followed by a celebration for students who have spent weeks perfecting their performance.

The “Picture This” halftime show includes five movements based on a piece by Russian composer Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky: “Say Cheese,” “Paparazzi,” “Still Life,” “Candid” and “Iconic.”

“This year’s show is more of a classical style than in previous years, and the choreography will be a reflection of the style of the movements,” said Band Director Sheily Bell. “ ‘Paparazzi’ is fast, so the choreography will be fast, as if someone is chasing after the musicians. For ‘Still Life,’ everyone is quiet and still. So, the variety will keep the audience interested and excited.”

The finale culminates in the purple-and-black marchers being surrounded and centered inside a huge, makeshift picture frame, courtesy of the color guard flitting from one side of the field to another with huge rolls of cloth.

By the time the approximately 180-member band hits the field to support the school’s football team, it will have practiced for two weeks of band camp and many two-hour after-school practices three times a week. That adds up to about 150 hours of practice and performances for the marchers this fall, Bell said.

“Band teaches students invaluable skills such as discipline, teamwork, responsibility and dedication,” Bell said. “Music uses both sides of the brain. Study after study has linked it to higher test scores and college attendance and retention. In band, students learn how to read music, how to breathe and the coordination required in marching. Kids also get math from counting, geometry from creating patterns on the field, history, and even a little bit of foreign language, as a lot of the written dynamics in music, such as pianissimo, are Italian.”

This year, Dutchtown High School has its hands full juggling the largest incoming freshman class in the school’s history. For the band, that equates to more than half being composed of freshmen. Bell says keeping everyone on track takes a proverbial village.

This year, the band hired separate staff to manage marching, music and visuals. Support includes incoming Assistant Band Director Daniel Modenbach, Ascension Parish talented and gifted teacher Jonathan Boswell, percussionist Matt Murray, Prairieville Middle School Band Director William Barbay and Dutchtown High School teacher Matt Atkinson. In addition, the band is utilizing some of its own by having more experienced marchers mentor newcomers. This “shadowing” motivates older students, as well as those in middle school serving as eighth-grade alternates, Bell said. Drum majors also play a role in mentoring and leading the band. They are senior Julian Stanley, drum major; senior Ryan Hoffman, assistant drum major; and junior Maddie Schram, assistant drum major.

In addition to providing invaluable school spirit for Dutchtown High School’s football team, as well as the dance team, both at home and away, the band also is gearing up for three marching festival competitions: the Louisiana Marching Band Circuit marching festival on Oct. 18 at Terrebonne High School, the Dutchtown Invitational marching festival on Oct. 25 at Dutchtown High School and Showcase on Nov. 8 at University of Louisiana at Lafayette.