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UTM Skyhawk Marching Band hosts 11th SMBI

By Glenda Gayle Alexander
On September 19, 2012


On a calm afternoon this past Saturday, music resounded throughout the UT Martin campus from the Hardy M. Graham Stadium. The UTM Skyhawk Marching Band hosted their 11th annual Skyhawk Marching Band Invitational (SMBI) on Saturday, Sept. 15 from 2:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.

Seventeen high school bands from Tennessee and Kentucky competed and were judged by a board of judges with each judge being over a different section of performance.

Each band was separated into different sections based on the size of the band, with 55 being the cap for the small band category and any number above that in the large category. From there, they are further divided into classes within their division, with one to 32 band members being class A, 33 to 55 being class 2A, 56 to 80 being class 3A and 81 and above being class 4A.

Also, bands are judged in seven different categories: field commander, auxiliary, percussion, color guard, band by class and visual and music, with both having subcategories of effect and performance.

Awards, on the other hand, are separated into different categories: participation awards, field commanders, color guard, best percussion, best in class and the grand champion in both large and small band categories.

The day of competition started with Chris Romanowski, a Drum Corps International Percussion Judge, giving a percussion clinic at noon. Then at 2:30 p.m., the first band to showed their stuff in competition.

All the bands were excellent, but there were two that stood out with their creativity. The first band was McNairy Central with their Voodoo show. It had exciting, soothing and dreamlike music. The shapes and movements were visually exciting and precise. The opening was unique with the majority of the band starting out under a huge black cloak. The effect was there even though one unlucky band member was trapped underneath and struggled to get out for a few long seconds.

As a result of their energy and performance, they took 1st place in Class 2A along with Grand Champion in Small Division for this show. They also won 1st in Color Guard, Percussion, and Field Commander.

The second band that stood out was Gibson County with their "Heart Beat of Life" show. Their opening was great with all the band members starting out by lying on the field in the shape of a heart beat that got faster and faster as the time progressed. They won third place in the large division.  

The competition also included the UT Martin Trombone Studio performing the National Anthem, and the Skyhawk Marching Band performing their show, "Time and Time Again" at exhibition right before awards at 8:30 p.m.

As far as putting this event together, a lot of work went into it from Director of Athletic Bands Matthew Stratton, Skyhawk Marching Band members, music professors, and other music students, like the members of the UTM University Singers. SMBI was a group effort and took two months to be put together in the hopes of an impeccable execution. Judges for the competition were picked as far back as April.

Throughout the day of SMBI, band members and other music students had various jobs in order for SMBI to go smoothly. There were 90 jobs per shift and two shifts total. For most of the day, members of the Skyhawk Marching Band worked all the shifts, and then University Singers members took over when the Skyhawk Marching Band perfomed at the end of the invitational. With there only being 96 members in the Skyhawk Band, many members worked several shifts throughout the day.  

Besides making the event run smoothly, finances are also an issue that has to be addressed. For a band to compete, they must fill out an application and send in $50 in order to be counted as a contestant. The expenses are due a month in advance and if late, are an additional $25. These expenses go to funding for getting judges, trophies, printed programs and personnel. The left over is used to fund the Skyhawk Marching Band so they continue to take part in all of the activities that they do throughout the semester.

According to Stratton, despite the "swirling vortex" of bad weather, SMBI was a success.

"It went fairly smooth and incredibly well with positive feedback from all the directors," said Stratton.

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