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Musicians take top honors in Marshall

The Hastings drum line is pictured during a marching band competition in Marshall. (Submitted photo)1 / 3
Pictured from left to right are Mackenzie Ritchie, Ben Ventry and Courtney Fasbender. (Submitted photo)2 / 3
The Hastings Raiders marching band gathers during a meet over the weekend in Marshall. (Submitted photo)3 / 3

The Hastings Raiders Marching Band competed against five other bands at Marshall Saturday, Sept. 21 and took home a huge first place win. This is the third competition that the band has earned that top spot out of four shows.

One judge told the directors, “Hastings has plenty of room to grow and improve throughout the season, where other bands have reached their peak already.”

In addition to winning first place, the Raiders also took the captions of “Outstanding Color Guard,” “Outstanding Frontline Percussion (pit),” “Outstanding Music General Effect,” and “Outstanding Visual General Effect,”

So what does Visual General Effect mean? One judge, positioned in the press box, has the challenging task of determining how well the drill program (marching formations and drill design) interprets the music as well as the coordination of all the visual aspects of the show. This judge also scores the band based on how they “sell” their show to the audience.

Music General Effect is evaluated by one judge. He/she is looking at how musically the performers play, how effective their performance is relative to other bands, and how well each band’s entire musical presentation is assembled or coordinated to depict a unified production. This judge is located in the press box also. There are usually four other judges; one focuses on the execution of the marching (how well each individual marches), one on the music execution, listening to each individual and how they contribute to the whole ensemble, one judge watching the color guard, and one judge watching the percussion.

Competitive marching band in Minnesota isn’t just about going on the field and playing the school song. It’s about telling a story on a football field. The marching bands play the music, but they also act, dance, sing, and narrate a story. The color guard is the visual part of the story. Their flags, rifles, sabres and other props (with Hastings, they have briefcases), help to tell an eight-minute story to the audience. The Raiders show, “Undercover,” does just that. The show begins with a guard soloist trapped in a cage built of 7-foot tall chain link fence. Throughout the show, the color guard will break her out of the fences, be on the run from the band, reflect of a time in her past, and maybe escape?

You’ll have to watch the show to see how it ends.

The Raiders Marching Band is halfway through their competitive season, and succeeding all the way. So far, they have earned: three first place awards; one fourth place award; four out of four Outstanding Percussion Captions; three out of four Outstanding Color Guard Captions; two out of four Outstanding Drum Major Captions; two out of three Outstanding Soloist Captions (Marshall did not have a soloist caption).

The Raiders trophies are piling up, but the biggest thing the staff insists with these kids is performing the best of their ability, each and every time.

“Winning is fun,” says director Emily Chandler. “But it’s how we perform that counts. The band keeps getting better every week, and that’s through hard work. What we’re asking the students is not an easy thing.

“They have school work, family stuff and other activities that they are in, but we are asking them to drop it all and focus on marching band for seven hours of the week,” she said.  “That’s the only reason we keep getting better. The kids are working smarter.”

The Raiders compete at Irondale High School in New Brighton this Saturday, Sept. 28. The show begins at 5. The Raiders will then take their show on the road to Sioux Falls, S.D., Oct. 5 and end their season at the Metrodome on Oct. 12. for the state finals.

Information on the Raiders Marching Band is available at The Raiders are under the direction of Emily Chandler and Thomas Wentzler. Percussion staff is Josh Wahlstrom and Joe Holmes. Color Guard Staff is Amanda Flom, Alice Flom, Melanie Cordell, and Lindsey Wetterhahn.