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By Karla Pomeroy

Black Thunder heads to state competition in Casper


October 17, 2019

Alex Kuhn

The Worland High School Black Thunder marching band performs for the Worland crowd during halftime of the Worland-Rawlins football game on Oct. 4 at Worland High School.

WORLAND - The Worland High School Black Thunder Marching Band heads to the state competition this Saturday in Casper.

Eighty members strong this year with band and color guard, the band is led by instructors Chad Rose and Frank Harding with drum majors senior Caleb Fraser and junior Anja Sheesley. The group has been working toward this event since the four-day camp in early August. They have had weekly rehearsals on Tuesday, as well as working during sectionals and daily class time.

In preparation for the state competition, Worland participated in a marching band event in Buffalo last week with Worland, Buffalo, Campbell County, Thunder Basin and Cody participating.

"What a great opportunity to refocus on some of the things we do well, and those that we have let slip a little. The bands there were very well prepared.  We have also taken some ideas we saw there and incorporated them into our show.  As far as drill is concerned, we are a bit further than we have been for a while, so it's nice to have the flexibility to be a little creative."

Black Thunder will be playing highlights of "La Nouba, a Cirque Du Soleil" show, arranged by Jay Dawson.

The drill was written by Dr. William Woodworth of Emporia State University. Rose said they performed together in college, and he spent almost 20 years at Las Vegas (NV) High School as the director of bands.  

"He is very good at bringing out the best of our band in his writing," Rose said.

Rose added that the color guard design was by Stacia Winters, formerly of the BYU Marching Band.

As for expectations for Black Thunder this year, Rose said, "We graduated a plentiful number of seniors last year. Simply, we are trying to continue that same tradition of excellence that they have set for us.  I think we are well on our way.  We have not peaked yet, and that is right where we want to be.  We are working on focusing on fundamentals and discipline.  

"I think that sense of self-discipline you get from band is really different that what we see in sports, and having coached football, basketball, soccer and golf, I feel pretty comfortable saying that.  This level of precision is more closely related to military drill ... just proving to yourself each day that nothing will get you to give up or back down."

Rose added, "In sports, if you are struggling, we put in a sub for you and have a discussion about how you can improve.  In marching band, there are no subs.  We work for 11 weeks for this one assessment of our work, and our success is found in the sum of its parts. Each individual is key to the group's success; they all have a spot and a musical role, and no one else can do it for them.  If we achieve what we set out for, it can't be measured by a score.  The students will know if we have done all we could as soon as we exit that floor, regardless of the subjectivity of the score."

At the state competition at the Casper Events Center, the band will be judged with all bands across the state.

Rose said the music judges are looking for fundamental playing, and artistic interpretation. "They want to hear something entertaining and powerful.  The marching and color guard judges are looking for precision.  They are making certain no one is executing a move too early or too late, that forms are dressed appropriately, and that there is an esprit de corps in the ensemble that shows the self-discipline we all expect of our groups."

He added, "I'm really proud of this group.  We have a few beginners, a lot of freshmen, and very busy students.  Mr. Harding and I have asked a ton of them, and they continue to step up to the plate.  The goal here is to leave the Event Center as a different band than the one that entered the tunnel in preparation of performance.  I'm very confident we will do that."


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