Sunday, May 26, 2024

Sound of Springtown making beautiful noise


SPRINGTOWN — Neil Diamond had a popular song titled "Beautiful Noise."

Ask folks in Springtown and they'll tell you that describes their own Sound of Springtown marching band.

"Our community is very invested in the band program," said Director Scot McPhetrige. "We host two marching contests a year here in Springtown and the community shows up in big ways to help us run those contests. Local businesses donate a lot of materials for us to use and many members of the community volunteer their time to help us take care of the bands that are visiting Springtown on those days.

"The community also celebrates our successes and works with the kids so their work schedules can align well with band practices, concerts, and contests."

The most recent of those marching showcases was on Oct. 7. As always, it was well attended.

"We have been hosting this marching contest for many years and we had a great lineup of bands," McPhetrige said. "We performed in an exhibition at the end of the contest, so our students were not competing at this contest. It was, however, an opportunity to perform after working a long day of hosting schools and get comments from the judges who were adjudicating the contest.

"We received some great feedback from the judges and it really set the tone for our rehearsals. Every week we try to get better and better. Hopefully our show will 'arrive' or 'peak' at the state marching band contest in San Antonio on Nov. 1."

Springtown ISD has been selected as one of the Best Communities for Music Education for the past several years.

"We have a lot of former students who are now parents letting their children participate in our band program, and that is the kind of support that really speaks volumes," McPhetrige said. "The experiences they had obviously meant enough to them that they want to have their own children gain those experiences as well."

The competition season began on Sept. 16 when the band attended the Lake Ridge Drumline Contest in Mansfield, where they picked up a Best Snares trophy. They also competed in US Band Saginaw on Sept. 23 and The Sunnyvale Marching Invitation on Sept. 30. 

"We received great comments from the judges at each contest," McPhetrige said.

This past Saturday the band competed in the UIL regional marching contest. They received straight No. 1 ratings to qualify for area competition in Pflugerville on Saturday, Oct. 21.

McPhetrige is in his third year directing the band after serving as an assistant for 17 years. The Sound of Springtown has a history of success, dating back to the culture established by JB Perry and Robin Hidrogo's work building the band program in the 1990s. Perry recently retired as Springtown ISD fine arts director and Hidrogo has stepped into that role.

"They both worked for over 20 years in Springtown and really set the stage for what we have been able to continue doing," McPhetrige said. "Having their guiding hands around in administrative roles has certainly helped those of us still in the band hall to continue the culture of success they worked so hard to establish."

Another thing that helps Springtown to be successful is having a strong middle school band program. Hidrogo and Alexis Wells have been the only two head middle school band directors in Springtown for the past 30 years. 

"That amount of consistency pays massive dividends into what the high school band is able to achieve," McPhetrige said.

McPhetrige added a third point that helps Springtown to be successful is a supportive administration.

"Springtown has enjoyed administrators at all levels that value fine arts education," he said. "While the band directors certainly put in hard work to help our kids have a great experience it would not be possible without the support of our administration."

The band program has 127 students this school year and has had as many as 145 in the past.

Other programs under the Springtown band umbrella include:

  • The colorguard/winterguard program. The "guard" students are the students who spin and toss flags, prop rifles and prop sabers in choreography with the marching show and with recordings in their Winterguard season. The Guard program has flourished under the leadership of assistant band director/colorguard instructor Cheyenne Rodriguez Uribe.
  • Drumline/percussion studio. The drumline consistently places high in its categories at competitions and the percussion studio, led by Rachel Garza, has been invited to participate in the Music For All festival in Indianapolis in late March. The students are raising funds for that trip.
  • Concert bands (also called symphonic and honors band) are consistent sweepstakes recipients. A sweepstakes happens when students receive a first division rating from the region marching contest, region concert contest and region sight-reading contest. The band hall is filled with sweepstakes trophies from 30-plus years of University Interscholastic League contests.
  • The jazz band has performed as invited guests at local Christmas programs and has even performed at weddings. It also performs several concerts a year and has had the most students qualify for the region jazz band and record for all-state jazz in the local region for the past several years.

"It really is fun to come to work and try and make a difference in the lives of the kids you teach every day," McPhetrige said. "Our band program has a motto 'Let's have a great day!' I end my weekly newsletter with that statement and the kids say it after we finish rehearsal each and every day. It is a statement that says 'No matter what is thrown at me today, I am going to do what I can to make today great.'"