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

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.”

Fans got a preview of the halftime show Friday when the band performed for parents and staff in the school’s gymnasium, followed by a celebration for students who spent weeks perfecting their performance.

The 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,” band Director Sheily Bell said. “ ‘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 by 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 about 150 hours, 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’s staff includes managers for 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 using 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.