MARBLE FALLS — Hard work pays off is how Marble Falls High School band students and instructors interpret the success the program experienced Feb. 17 at the Texas University Interscholastic League Region 26 solo-and-ensemble contest at Leander Rouse High School.
“It really does show if you put your mind to something and really work at it, you can achieve anything,” band member Tyler Hickingbottom said. “Making state — that was my mindset when we started this process. I didn’t want to just do well, I wanted to get to state.”
Hickingbottom is one of about two dozen Marble Falls High School band students who earned spots in the Texas State Solo and Ensemble Contest at The University of Texas at Austin from May 25-27. The band is sending four ensembles to the competition and about another half-dozen soloists.
“It’s pretty challenging to get to the state solo-and-ensemble contest,” band director Brad Behrens said. “The students have to put in a tremendous amount of work outside their regular band and school schedule.”
At the regional competition, Marble Falls band members faced several hundred students from 3A, 4A and 5A schools. The ones earning a nod to state also had to perform the higher level Class 1 musical selections.
“And, for soloists, there’s the stress of performing by themselves in front of a judge,” Behrens said. “That’s incredibly more difficult. But it makes them much better musicians.”
The work the students do behind the scenes to achieve the skills to compete at state often goes unnoticed. Carla De La Hoya, an ensemble member heading to the May contest, said she and her group put in at least an additional 30 minutes of practice two to three times a week.
“That was the minimum,” she said. “It takes sacrifice to advance to the state level. There are times when you finish with class and all you want to do is go home. But, if you want to be good enough to compete at the state level, you put in the extra practice instead.”
It doesn’t get any easier now that they are headed for state.
“We have to put in more time and more practice,” band member Erika LeCates said. “You can’t just go out there with the attitude that these are just notes on the page. You have to add life to the music to make it much more exciting and interesting for yourself and the judge.”
Behrens said he hopes the students realized the concept of hard work isn’t something that ends with band.
“It’s difficult to be good at anything without putting in hard work,” the director said. “At the end of the day, if they do the best they can, regardless of the outcome, they’re successful. That’s what I believe.”