SPOTSWOOD, NJ - Spotswood High School Band Director Sarah Carino-Koza has been directing the high school's award-winning music program for the past 17 years. The band like the drama club has gone silent in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. Today, the band is spotlighted as Carino-Koza recounts her top 10 Chargers' band moments:
Guitar Hero: On the day before Winter Break in 2009, we had an all-day session of Guitar Hero in the Band Room. It was fun, until the contacts on the Wii Guitar controller burned out and everyone's score was so low that we were booed off stage within seconds of the songs starting.
Moving The Timpani:
Because of the "interesting" design flaws of Spotswood High School, when we move the timpani on stage for our concerts, there is quite a bit of creative engineering and depth perception skills that are involved in making sure that they reach their final destination safely, through doorways that are too narrow and outdoor steps that are too steep.
The Ham Sandwich: Sometime in 2005-2006, there may or may not have been an incident in the Band Room involving a nine iron and a ham sandwich.
Bringing Down the House...literally
: In the Spring of 2015, the Concert Band had an arrangement of Holst's Planets Suite
on their concert program. In preparing for that performance, during a percussion lesson, the percussionists weren't quite playing loud enough to authentically represent the "fire" of Mars: The Bringer of War
. When trying it again, the percussionists played so loudly that a piece of the old ceiling in the Band Room literally fell down.
Seeing Maynard Ferguson Perform at JP Stevens: In the Spring of 2006, the Jazz Band attended a special concert with trumpet icon Maynard Ferguson and his Big Band at JP Stevens High School in Edison. Maynard played along with his band, as well as the JP Stevens Jazz Band, and because it happened to be Maynard's birthday, the members of his band incorporated the "Happy Birthday" melody into their solos that night - including the drummer!
The Giant Stuffed Banana: In April of 2010, the Band traveled to Williamsburg, VA and made a stop at Busch Gardens. After a particularly successful carnival game, a few students walked away with the grand prize, which was an eight-foot tall stuffed banana. The banana was used as a recruitment tool at Extra-Curricular Activities Night that year, as well as donning a bow tie on his head to sit in the audience at our Spring Concert.
Jazz Band Tribute Concert with Special Guests: In June of 2012, the SHS Jazz Band was asked to perform a tribute concert for a local resident who had recently passed away and was a big lover of jazz. We revamped our concert program, and added in a few local "big deal" guests to play with the band, including a few SHS Band alumni, Mason Gross jazz faculty, as well as Ralph Bowen, the great jazz saxophonist who had previously played with legends like Horace Silver. The icing on the cake was getting a masterclass experience with Mr. Bowen, who coached the SHS Jazz Band on "Sister Sadie," which is a chart written by Horace Silver. Doesn't get better than that!
Performing at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
: On the Band Trip to Cleveland, OH in 2017 the Concert Band and Wind Ensemble joined together to play some of the charts that Charger fans are accustomed to hearing at varsity football games. We got to play on THE stage!
Honors Wind Ensemble Achieves Its First 'Superior' Rating: After many years of scoring just shy of the 90/100 point minimum needed to be awarded a prestigious "Superior" rating at a national competition, the 2017-2018 Honors Wind Ensemble dazzled adjudicators with their inspiring performance of John Mackey's Lighting Field and Eric Whitacre's moving setting of Lux Arumque and walked away with the highest score in the school's history: a 93.55.
The Star Wars Concert: In 2015, the Concert Band, Honors Wind Ensemble, 15 SHS Band alumni and a few professional musicians who are friends of our program combined together to pull off the tall feat of performing the complete suite of music from the first six Star Wars films. With around 95 eager players on stage, a packed crowd and a movie screen behind us, the entire ensemble brought to life John Williams' epic score just before the long-awaited release of "Episode VII: The Force Awakens."
Carino-Koza admits she had a difficult time narrowing the field of top moments to just 10 through she did enjoy the challenge and the walk down memory lane. 2015's Star Wars concert was number one on her list.
“The Star Wars saga spans so many decades of fans, which is really a rare thing,” Carino-Koza said at the time of the epic concert. “John Williams really changed the way film music was made. Music became the supporting actor.”