Marching band excels against 10 rivals, rain in weekend competition

Oct 9, 2016

Drum majors Val Paynton and Dom Vaccari suited up and anxiously awaited the start of their performance. More than 200 people turned out to see the Dartmouth High's marching band perform in a home competition, and the two felt the community’s eyes upon them.

The band and color guard battled against 10 other high schools — some from as far as Connecticut and New York — at the October 8 competition.

“We want to make sure everyone knows this is Dartmouth. This is our home show. We want to knock everyone's’ socks off,” Paynton said.

They did, despite the light drizzle looming overhead. Memorial Stadium is one of a few venues that features real grass, which poses a risk for sliding and can make precise movements difficult when the weather is wet.

Dartmouth’s 15-minute performance focused on the changing of seasons from winter to spring, earning them 90.860 out of 100 points.

Preparing for the competition is a lot of work, said Bill Kingsland, Dartmouth High’s Director of Music.

“The marching band is in practice five days out of seven. They spend at least 15-20 hours a week practicing,” he said.

“We practice more than some sports teams,” Vaccari added.

Kingsland said that the band is already preparing for the biggest event of the year: nationals in New Jersey. The band has been successful in nationals over the past few years, and took second place overall in last year’s competition, said Kingsland.

This year, the marching band and color guard are off to a great start, he explained. The first competition of the season at Blackstone-Millville Regional High School netted 81.575 points out of a 100-point system. At their next competition at King Philip Regional High School, Dartmouth High scored 89.900 points. Kingsland said that because the band is breaking 90 points this early in the season, it puts them in a good position for nationals.

“It does not seem like a big deal in October, but when bands are put in order [for nationals], it is advantageous,” Kingsland said, explaining that the cumulative score will help determine placement at the national competition.

Parent volunteer Greg Jones said that 60-70 volunteers do everything from direct traffic to run the concession stand at the $3,000 event, a cost he hoped to offset with fundraising at the competition.

Concluding the show, the Symphony Shop — a music shop located at 94 State Road — and the Dartmouth School Music Association presented Caden Mazzarella with a scholarship and a new trumpet so that he could compete with the rest of the band in Disney World in December.