Fenton Marching Band competes again after 18 years

Meghan Maier, Assistant Online Editor

After 18 years, the Fenton High marching band competed in the District 3 Michigan Schools Band and Orchestra Association Marching Band Festival on Oct. 12 at Goodrich High School. Where the band received the best score possible.

“The band got all ones [in each category] which is the highest score you can get,” Band Director Patrick Conaton said. “The way it is ranked is a one is the best you can do and a five is the worst that you can do. I knew that they would at least get a two, but they had the best performance they had done all season and really stepped it up.”

Because the band has not competed in about 18 years, competing was a new experience for the marching band.

“The experience was nerve-racking for me,” senior Drum Major Josh Maier said. “As drum major, I am in charge of the whole band while we are on the field and that made me very nervous. I wanted the band to receive that score of one which also made me very nervous for the rest of the band, but they did it.”

The preparation the band put into this competition was a long process starting back in July. 

“We started our season in July with a pre-camp as well as band camp,” Assistant Band Director Nicholaus Jeffrey said. “We had practice every morning from 6:30-7:30 this year since the school year started. Because we were going to the competition this year, Conaton and I wanted to have a difficult show and, because of this decision, we were only able to complete three of our four songs during band camp. Which meant we had to finish the final song during the school year zero hour practices. We utilized every practice day to get better for the competition; even on days it rained, the practice was just moved inside.”

With Conaton’s background in band competitions, he knew what the band needed to do to score high. 

“Conaton’s old director helped us prepare because he had brought bands to festivals for many years— so he knew what we needed to emphasize the most during practices,” Jeffrey said.

Competitions also serve as a way to learn from other groups and see what each band does differently.

“It was refreshing to watch other schools’ performances to see what they worked on throughout the school year,” junior Drum Major Tess DuPei said. “I am so used to seeing our band perform, it was fun to be able to see other groups perform. All the bands were so unique— some had drum pits, dancers and even color guards.”

The marching band is planning to continue participating in these types of competitions moving forward, and is hoping to gain more members to have an even stronger performance.