County bands march off with first-place standings at state championships

October 25, 2001|By Melody Holmes | Melody Holmes,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Marching bands at South Carroll, Westminster and Liberty high schools placed first in their divisions in the Maryland State Marching Band Championships last weekend at Towson University.

"The success of all the marching band programs in Carroll County - especially of those schools who made a showing at the competition - is a direct result of the countless hours of hard work of the students, the directors and the parents, and their dedication to a high standard," said Jeff Rogers, supervisor of fine arts for Carroll County public schools.

"It's important that students get a quality music education, and it's important that students be a part of school beyond the scheduled school day. It can be very meaningful to the high school experience," he said.

Each of the six public high schools in Carroll has a marching band, and many have competed at the state level since the competition began at Towson in the mid-1980s.

Westminster won first place in Division IV, which allows up to 90 band members. Liberty won in Division III, which allows up to 80 members. South Carroll won in Division II, which allows up to 55 members.

Joe Fischer, director of the instrumental music department at Liberty, said placing first in the state championships takes "a lot of hours of practice. We practice three days a week for about three hours a day."

But Fischer said winning is not the band's ultimate goal.

"We have never made what we do about scores or placements. It's about going out, doing our best and showing improvement" at each competition, he said.

Fischer said he is, however, pleased about the first-place win. It is Liberty's first win since Fischer became music department director in the 1990s. He said the band placed first in the state championships 12 times before.

It is important, Fischer said, that the school day is completed adequately before his students go to band practice. Students at Liberty must maintain at least a C average to remain in the band.

Similar standards for the band reap benefits such as last weekend's first-place finish, he said.

"If you work hard and put in the effort and time, these things work themselves out."

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