Cedartown High School’s marching band is entertaining crowds this year with popular tunes under the direction of veteran band director Tom McGarity.
This year the band is playing hits from the group “Earth, Wind & Fire.”
“We played one of Earth, Wind, & Fire’s tunes during our spring concert and afterwards my seniors came to me because they had liked it so much they wanted to play more this fall,” said McGarity.
McGarity said playing the music has brought some unique challenges.
“That style of music is more of a jazz and funk style, which has a lot of syncopation.” McGarity said. “That is when the accents fall on normally weak beats. And playing more jazz creates a lot of articulation issues.”
Senior Sofie De Wandel is drum major for the band. She was assistant drum major last year as well as a flute and piccolo player in the concert band.
“She is a very, very mature young lady and a very intelligent young lady,” said McGarity. “She has already received a swimming scholarship to Stamford out in California. She is probably one of the most conscientious drum majors I have ever had in my teaching career.”
De Wandel described her role as drum major. “My responsibility as drum major is to make sure that the band starts on time, that the instrument groups know what they are doing musically and that if there is a question I am able to provide an answer,” said De Wandel.
The band competed Saturday, Oct. 6, at Jacksonville State University and will compete again Saturday in Haralson County.
“I expect that our band will do very well,” said De Wandel.
McGarity and De Wandel strive to make their band successful.
“I believe the band is successful when everybody works together and pulls together to learn the music and march,” said De Wandel.
“The hardest part (of being in band) would be having to work with people from different backgrounds and making sure that everyone is able to perform at their best,” she said.
De Wandel said the most rewarding aspect is the same as the hardest.
Another challenge that the band is facing as a whole is that they have to practice in the senior parking lot. On some days the band has to practice around cars left in the parking lot, and when the school has a middle school football game, the parents will park in the lot.
The band is large this year, with 123 members. McGarity said that is the biggest that the band has been in his 12 years at Cedartown High School.
This year the band is also competing in a higher classification. With 84 horn players, they will be in the Class AAAA competing against bands with over 100 horn players. “It’s good that we have grown, but it will be a little bit harder for us,” McGarity said.
There are two assistant drum majors this year. “Ashley Gable, a flautist, and David Wallace, a mallet percussion player, are the two assistants,” McGarity said. “During tryouts the judges gave them the exact same scores, and instead of doing a tiebreaker, I decided to let them both be assistant drum majors.”
“Gable had to take over leadership at band camp this summer while the drum major and the other assistant were not here,” said McGarity. “She did a great job. They are all three great students who all truly care about the band program.”
Helping McGarity this year are Chuck Isbell, the Cedartown Middle School band director, and John Triplett, a teacher at Westside Elementary School. The color guard supervisor this year is Lora Baker, a Polk County School District employee.
Valerie De Wandel
Sofie De Wandel
Christian Jason Price