SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ - The Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School Raider Marching Band placed third with a score of 96.063 in Group 6A at the U.S. Bands National Competition held last Saturday at MetLife Stadium.
The band also took home the Caption Award for “Best Effects” as well as the esteemed “Cadets Award for Excellence,” an award presented by the world-renowned Cadets Drum Corps to a band that exemplifies the spirit of marching band. This placed the band only about .24 points behind first place and only about 0.2 behind second.
The competition, which takes place at MetLife Stadium every year, is the traditional closing to a high school band’s competitive season and pits rivals against rivals in pursuit of the prestigious title of “National Champion".
However, this title is deceptive as there are several regional competitions, the MetLife Stadium competition included, that cater to various areas of the country under the “National Competition” moniker. This performance came at the end of a week-long marathon of practices that the band affectionately refers to as “Hell Week”. With all of their effort, the students are undoubtedly happy with their performance and their season as a whole, which also placed the band as State Champions about two weeks ago.
“I think that it was an awesome way to end our season. I was so proud to go accept the award. It was one of the best shows the band has ever performed,” said junior Michael Lange, the band’s president who, along with the drum majors and various other student leaders, accepted the award on behalf of the band.
As the band wrapped up its season, The Alternative Press caught up with the youngest SPF drum major, Emily Fidlow, to talk about the band and her experience with her first year of leading it:
TAP: What makes being a drum major challenging?
EF: As part of being a drum major you have to be knowledgeable about many aspects of marching band including music, marching technique, and tempo maintenance. You have to be able to answer any question that comes your way and correct any mistake that happens.
TAP: How rewarding is being a drum major?
EF: Being a drum major is so rewarding! I love when the band does really well at a competition or we have a productive rehearsal because I know I was a help in making it happen. My favorite parts about being a drum major are feeling the energy of the band radiate off the field during a competition. It really drives me to do my best. The pride the band feels when we march off the field after performing a great show is a feeling unlike any other. I also love being able to talk to all different people in the band who are in different grades and play different instruments.
TAP: What are the keys to being a successful drum major?
EF: To be a successful drum major you have to be serious when the band needs to be productive. You also have to be outgoing and approachable when different members of the band want to talk to you, whether it be about band or anything else. In addition you have to present yourself well and project confidence when in front of the band and in front of the audience.
TAP: What distinguishes Scotch Plains - Fanwood's band from other bands?
EF: The size of our band, 179 members to be specific, is one thing that differentiates us from other bands. Also our dedication and commitment to making our show better at every rehearsal is what makes our shows so entertaining to watch.
TAP: How do you think the band did its National Competition at MetLife Stadium?
EF: I think we performed the best show we had all season. Energy was radiating from every performer and everyone marched off the field feeling proud about what we accomplished throughout the season.
TAP: What are your plans for the future? Will you do college marching band?
EF: I plan to return to the Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School marching band in my senior year as a second year drum major. After that I plan to graduate high school and attend college. I am considering doing college marching band in the future.