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Bands converge on FD to strut their stuff

Invitational gives marching musicians fresh ideas

September 26, 2010
By HANS MADSEN, Messenger staff writer

After being shown into one of the band rooms at the Fort Dodge Senior High School, members of the West Marshall Marching Band filled the room with the sort of noise an unpacking band would be expected to make after the long bus ride that brought it to the seventh annual North Central Iowa Band Invitational.

The clanging of cases being opened, reeds being tested, drums getting a tap or two and, of course, the sound of students conversing as they found their place on the tiers took over the room.

"Did anybody find a neck strap?" a students asked before she and several others began looking for the errant saxophone accessory.

Article Video

Fort Dodge Senior High hosts the 7th annual North Central Iowa Band Invitational

As the din reached its maximum, the booming voice of Band Director Mike Fisher climbed just a bit louder and shut the other noise down.

"Get rid of your gum," he told a student in the first row. "You can't chew gum the rest of the day."

Then he went drill instructor on them.

Article Photos

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Members of the Waterloo East High School Trojan marching band perform their “Led Zepplin Tour” selections Saturday evening at the seventh annual North Central Iowa Band Invitational in Dodger Stadium.

"Atttnnnnnn, HUT!" he shouted before telling them, just a bit more quietly, "Check your horn angles."

Once settled onto the tiers, the band began playing under the careful observation of Mike Eckerty, band director at Simpson College, who was one of several clinicians that observed the students, gave them feedback, and helped the band perform better.

Mike Fisher welcomed the observations.

"These clinics give our band the opportunity to work with outstanding professionals in the field," he said. "It's fun for them and an educationally sound event for us."

In the main band room, the Waterloo East High School Trojan Marching Band was running through its Led Zepplin medley.

Director Joelle Smith said the clinics not only provide her with valuable feedback, they also help the students.

"They get a really good third party perspective," she said.

After a full day of clinics, the students got a chance to show off for a panel of judges, other bands and their family members who filled the bleachers at Dodger Stadium.

Curtiss Klein, director of bands for Fort Dodge Senior High School, organizes the event. He said that in spite of the day's gloomy weather forecast, all 15 bands made it to the event.

The rain stopped in time to allow the field competition. The clinics, however, were moved indoors.

Klein said the clinics help give the students a different perspective and an alternative method.

"My way is just a way," he said.

After the clinics, bands tend to score better in the competition, he said, adding that many of them put what they learn in the clinic to use in their next performance.

Kurt Schwarck, band director for the Spencer Tigers Marching Band, considered the clinic and competition a leaning environment for his students.

"I see an improvement from the clinic to the field," he said.

He's quick to credit his students for that.

"Band kids are really fast to implement," he said.

Contact Hans Madsen at (515) 573-2141 or



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