Wednesday, May 22, 2019
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20180907 PioneerMatchingBandWoodwindsNow in its 5th year of existence, the Sharyland Pioneer High School Marching Band is preparing for its latest marching band season with what its director is calling a “visually arresting show.”

If you’ve attended a Friday night football game featuring the Pioneer football team, you’ve seen their band performing their latest show “Spiraling into Madness” at halftime. “Spiraling into madness” features music from award-winning composers Frank Ticheli, Eric Whitacre and Samuel Barber.

“It’s an entertaining production,” Pioneer Band Director Arnold Salinas said. “It takes the listener from a happy place to a much darker place at the end of the show. It starts light in an ethereal way with major chords, and then it turns dark quickly. There’s lots of minor chords, very abrasive and the articulation style changes completely from a very smooth and pretty style to a second movement that is accented and sharp, resulting in a darker tonality as the music spirals into madness. You’re going to see it and hear it.”

In the five years Sharyland Pioneer High School has been in existence, the band has received numerous awards during the marching band season.

In 2015 and 2017, the years the school was eligible to compete at state marching band competitions, Pioneer competed at state on both occasions.

This year, as it is not a state year, Salinas said the band is focusing on regional Bands of America competitions, which typically reward a show more for the visual than music component of a band, Salinas said.

“We push the kid’s limits as far as what they can do on these [non-state] years to prepare them for the following year when it’s a state year,” Salinas said. “At our previous BOA focused year, we were a silver medalist at the BOA Austin regionals and last year we placed 3rd overall at regionals. We try our best to still make it competitive at any year because we want to perform at a high level every year.”

Marching band students began practicing the show July 16 from 8 a.m. through 11:30 a.m. During the school season, the band practices every morning before school. Salinas credits his students and the hard work they put in every day during practice for the success of the band.

“The kids have developed a system of pride in their product and it’s kind of engraved in them,” Salinas said. “They push themselves, even though I’m the head of this program, these students lead it themselves with all their hard work. If someone’s not carrying their weight in the band then they make sure to call that person out. It’s a lot of self-accountability.”

Ultimately, Salinas said, this attitude his students use during practice will guide them outside of band.

“Discipline, responsibility and pride in their product is what we teach our kids the most,” Salinas said. “We want to make sure our kids understand it’s not just about getting a division one rating, it’s about being the best band we can be altogether. It speaks volumes to the work they put into anything and it translates to the real world with whatever they do even if it doesn’t involve music. Our kids want to perform at a high level and in the long run that pushes them to be better people.”

The Sharyland Pioneer Marching Band will perform in their first marching band competition Saturday, September 22 as part of the 2018 Bands of America South Texas Regional Championship at McAllen Veterans Memorial Stadium.

You can see the marching band in action at the non-conference home football game between the Pioneer Diamondbacks and Brownsville’s Simon Rivera High School Raiders on Friday, September 21 at 7:30 p.m.