Teacher Spotlight: What it takes to run the band season

Mr. Fazakus directing the band in the Generals Rage Cage.

Mr. Fazakus directing the band in the Generals’ Rage Cage.

Matthew Hilliard, Author

How does Mr. Fazakas prepare for the band season?

Mr. Fazakas directing the band in the Generals’ Rage Cage.

Everyone knows him, our beloved band teacher Mr. Fazakas. He, along with Mr. Otte, is responsible for getting the marching band together for football season, and making sure everything goes smoothly. Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes when it comes to preparing for the season? Well, I interviewed Mr. Fazakas himself to discover just that, along with how this year has been different because of Covid.

Q: “How do you and Mr. Otte typically prepare for the marching band season?”

A: “Mr. Otte and I discuss the game schedule and try to plan out target dates for each new halftime show. We’ve been trying to do a new or different show at every home game for the past few years. This schedule will determine how difficult a show we do, both musically and marching-wise. Typically our first show is the most complicated, as we have the most time to learn it. In later shows we might only have 2-3 weeks to put it together. Unlike some other bands might do, we memorize everything – music and marching drill. Another consideration in regards to music is the strength of our student musicians. Just like a coach would do in calling plays or assigning positions, we have to choose our music arrangements based upon the strengths and weaknesses of our band. Likewise, when plotting out the positions of everyone on the field, we need to consider who the stronger players are and space them out appropriately so that there is a more even sound across the field. ”

Sheridan’s marching band performing a half-time show.

Q: “How have things been different this year?”

A: “I didn’t feel like we prepared much differently this year for the games. It was unfortunate that we couldn’t play at the away games or perform at any band festivals or parades, so other than missing out on those opportunities, I feel like it’s pretty much been business as usual with preparation, except for one difference; our halftime show dances would typically be in partners or groups, making some sort of physical contact at some point. That couldn’t happen this year, so my dance committee students had to go about planning their dances differently: with social distancing in mind. Two different things stick out in my mind in regards to the performances. One is the fact that we played the whole game, rather than taking our usual third quarter break. With so few performances, along with the fact that we were trying to avoid mingling during Covid. We felt it was important to be playing as much as possible during the games at which we performed. The other thing is just the wearing of masks and having to take them down to play every time. That was definitely different this year. Everyone did a great job with the mask wearing, though, and it didn’t affect our performances.”

Q: “How might things be different in future years, if at all.”

A: “I’m hopeful that next year will bring about a return to normal, like playing at away games. I’d plan on doing things like we have in prior years.”

Well there you have it. Overall, preparation for the band season didn’t change much due to Covid-19, but the performances certainly did.