Pismo Beach Band Competition


Drum Major Mei Bailey holds the band’s Fourth Place Trophy.

Written by David Tuffs, Reporter

Pismo Beach — At five o’clock on Saturday morning, November 5, the student population of the high school consisted entirely of tired and groggy band students getting their instruments ready and clambering for good seats on a slightly-cramped school bus, myself included. But there was excitement in their air. For the past couple of weeks, as first-period P.E. can attest to, the band had practiced playing The Billboard March  – a rigorous process in and of itself, including intonation (tuning), articulation (accents), and dynamics (volume) – on the field, while marching. Marching, as it turns out, can be very challenging – you have to be in step all the time, and you have to be in the correct line, row, and diagonal at all times. So, with all this in mind, and as much training as possible under their belts, the band headed south to the seaside town of Pismo Beach.

Pismo Beach, a town in San Luis Obispo county with a population of just under 8,000, hosts an annual middle school and high school marching band competition, known as the Annual Marching Band Review. The competition, currently in its thirty-eighth year, hosts a plethora marching bands from around the country and the surrounding area, but our band has not attended in years. After a three-hour drive, including a 35-minute period of sitting in traffic due to an accident, the band arrived. After disembarking in a parking lot where the rest of the schools were preparing, the band marched single file over a bridge and through many city blocks before arriving at the parade route. Hasty warmup, then a quiet area to prepare, and boom! Performance. The ‘parade’ itself took no more than five minutes, during which we played the march twice through from memory. All of this took less than an hour; the band arrived late, but managed to finish before they were scheduled to start.

Pismo Beach has an unusual atmosphere. Architecture-wise, it is very comparable to a warm, Southern California tourist area, but the climate is very temperate, especially around the beaches and pier, giving it the feel of a British coastal village. It was in this odd environment that the band spent the rest of their afternoon, buying lunch at Mo’s Smokehouse BBQ, a favorite of Mr. Hoffman, touring the sites with the matching t-shirts designed by Mei Bailey, the drum major, and playing volleyball on this beach.

So, all in all, a fun day, and the scores weren’t too bad either. PGHS took fourth out of six in our group, an impressive feat, given that other bands had cheerleaders, flags, and even banners, all of which were scored on top of the typical marching itinerary. The band beat five other, larger schools in Music and Marching, which were our main focuses, so that was brilliant. Best of all, we got a trophy (which two other schools did not), and not a small bedroom shelf consolation trophy either. Our trophy was about a foot and a half in height, gold, and shiny, with marble tiers.

Finally, after a fun and exhausting day of beach, barbecue, and beating other teams, the band took the bus home, trophy in hand, cheering ‘We got something! We got something!”