For months, you have been getting your student to practices, paying Band Fees, and participating in fundraisers. Now it is time to see your student in action at the various competitions. Here is some information to help make the Fall season better for you.
We know the general schedule already (LimestoneBands.com >> Schedule), but we won’t know the specifics until about two weeks before each competition. That is when the competition organizers publish the day’s schedule. Mr. Empey turns that into an itinerary and has the details posted on our website. Of course, all posted times are subject to change due to weather, travel delays, and a variety of other factors.
Be sure your student has eaten well. Help them remember his/her under-the-uniform clothes (Pep Band shirt, shorts with no pockets, and plain black crew socks), as well as weather-appropriate clothing for the rest of the day. Students with long hair (boys and girls alike) need to arrive to rehearsal with their hair properly put up and ready for the day. The band generally eats one meal at each competition; $10 per meal should be plenty at the high school competitions. (The Boosters will provide water during rehearsal.)
Competition Day usually starts with a rehearsal at school. While the students practice, the Band Moms get the uniforms ready, and the Band Dads pack up the props. This is a great time to come and see how you can get involved. When the band is done rehearsing, all the instruments are loaded on the trailers, and the students get on the buses.
If you are not riding the bus as a chaperone, you will have to transport yourself to the event. For overnight stays, you will have to make your own hotel arrangements, too. We will let you know as soon as possible which hotel the band will be at, so you can make your reservations there.
Parking varies at each event. The buses and trailers will have assigned lots to park in, but spectators have to park elsewhere. Some schools have lots of room, while you might have to hunt for a spot in a nearby neighborhood at other schools. At the college or BOA events, you may have to pay to park.
All students are expected to ride the bus to and from the event. You can take your student home afterward, but you need to arrange that with Mr. Empey in advance (see the Student Travel Release on the website), and you need to meet him or Mrs. Rzeszutko at the buses at the end of the event.
Be prepared to pay an admission price (usually $5-10 at the high schools; $15 at the universities, and more for BOA). The high schools usually only take cash. You may have the opportunity to purchase a program, too. Note: Each competition provides a limited number of wristbands or hand stamps for the staff and field/prop crew, and each competition has their own rules on who gets these. Just because you help behind the scenes (such as with uniforms or unloading a trailer) does not necessarily mean that you will have free entry to the stadium.
There will be some time built into the schedule for your student to eat, too. You are welcome to find them and eat with them, but be prepared for them to have a different schedule.
Be sure to arrive well before our scheduled performance time. It can take a few minutes to park, walk to the stadium, purchase your ticket, and find a seat. Also, to respect the bands, no one is allowed to go into or out of the bleachers during a performance.
Feel free to cheer loudly, for our band and all the others. Timely applause and cheering really encourages the students and helps their performance. In particular, cheer after a soloist finishes or during a particularly dramatic moment. But save your talking for between performances. And don’t clap in rhythm, since the timing of the sound from the stands can make it difficult for the band. (For cheering purposes, it can help if you sit with the other Limestone family members.)
Concessions (sandwiches, drinks, and snacks) are available at all the competitions. Etiquette says to buy the high school’s concessions, since that is a major fundraiser for their band program. Most high schools only take cash. (They sometimes run out of change, so you may want bring a few dollar bills.) There may be other vendors, such as t-shirts and buttons, to peruse, too.
Be mindful of the weather forecast for the entire day, including for rain and wind. There are days where you can get sunburnt during rehearsal and then be freezing at night. Dress in layers, and have a good hat. Be willing to share a blanket with a neighbor for some added warmth. For rain, a poncho tends to work better in the stands than an umbrella does. You may want to bring a small pillow, stadium seat, or extra blanket to sit on, as the bleachers can be hard and cold.
We stay through the awards ceremony. Then, the students will head back to the buses. Feel free to come to the buses and congratulate the students. We want to get on the road quickly, but there are always last-minute items to pack, and the Directors must wait for the awards packet, so there are a few minutes to spare.
Mr. Empey will share the details of the scores with the band. While we generally expect our scores to go up from one competition to the next (because the band continues to get better throughout the season), it is difficult to compare one competition’s scores to the next. There are different judges at each event, and they each see a slightly different show.
The schedule will have an estimated time that the band will arrive back at Limestone. Mr. Empey will send text messages via Remind.com if our arrival time will vary significantly. (See “How We Communicate with You” on the website for how to sign up for the text messages.) Please do not park by the sidewalk along the school; that is where the buses will pull up. And leave the space near the gate clear, so the trailers can get through to unload.
When the buses arrive, the students will need some time to clean the buses, unload the trailers, put their instruments away, et cetera. Then they will be released to go home, rest up, and be ready for the next time!
Thanks to all the Band Parents who contributed to this article over the years.