McALESTER — The Pride of McAlester Marching Band finished its competitive fall season Saturday at the Oklahoma Bandmasters Association Marching Championships at Mustang High School. McAlester placed third overall and second in 5A.
The competition came just three days after the OSSAA Eastern Regional in Broken Arrow, where McAlester received a top rating of “I.”
The performance at Regionals kept alive the band’s hopes of its 18th State Sweepstakes title, which requires superior ratings in marching, concert performance and sight-reading.
“That’s always our ultimate goal,” McAlester band director David Steidley said of the Sweepstakes.
“The OSSAA looks at not just marching, but they also look at how the students are being taught music, if they can sight-read, and also their performance in concert and marching band.”
While OSSAA competition uses a rating system in which multiple bands can earn top marks, the OBA competition uses a points-based system with judges. Because of that, marching band Director Mark Price said, little mistakes can prove more costly at OBA competitions.
“Every single judge is different, and their opinion of what is good is different,” Price said.
“The rubric is a little more in-depth for the OBA style, because it’s a points-based system, whereas the ratings system is a little more vague.”
Steidley said the Pride of McAlester faced different environmental conditions at Regionals and the OBA Championships. Whereas the band performed in bright sunshine on Oct. 23, it played in the rain Saturday, cutting off the electronics amplifying the band’s soloists.
“All of the woodwind instruments rely on pads, and pads are not very weather-friendly,” Price said.
Of course, all 27 Class 4A and 5A bands at the Championships had to deal with these conditions. And though both Price and Steidley said they were pleased with their band’s performance, 5A-winner Coweta and overall winner Piedmont just performed a little cleaner, leading to higher scores.