Bands soar to success


Aryauna Thompson

All bands who competed in UIL received sweepstakes.

The buses radiate nervous energy as the directors step on board with the highly anticipated manila envelopes in hand. “Canyon High, all ones.” A chorus of whooping and clapping erupts as both bands are swept up by a sense of relief and accomplishment. 

Both the honors and symphonic bands received sweepstakes April 11 at their performances in the UIL contest.

“I felt very well prepared and that we were going to make the standard,” head band director Mike Sheffield said. “We were still going to walk away with some things to fix, but I felt very comfortable with the honors band. I had a lot of faith in them bringing their A-game, and the symphonic band is one of the best symphonic bands we’ve ever had so I was pretty confident they were going to nail it also.”

Both directors said preparation was key in being successful in competition, and the hard work of the band and staff members had paid off.

It’s not a straight line to success, and it’s not easy for us. We have to work at it, and we have to work at it daily. That’s what makes it worth doing.”

— Mike Sheffield

“Preparation really played into our performance because we had the whole staff working as a team,” symphonic director Luis Hernandez said. “There is no way I could do something like this by myself. Absolutely no way. I couldn’t catch everything. I think maintaining that team concept really allows us to achieve what we do all the time.”

Both directors emphasized that success was not guaranteed and is dependent upon the bands’ focus in the midst of each performance.

“Once we finished each piece, I felt great about it and didn’t realize at the time our performance had gone as well as it had,” Sheffield said. “I was just in survival mode during contest, so listening to our recording later exceeded my expectations. The first time I listened, all I heard was problems. The second time I listened to it, some time had passed and I heard every good thing the band had done and I was duly impressed.”

Hernandez said he would not change anything about the results of the competition.

“I was very happy with how the contest turned out,” Hernandez said. “The fact both bands received sweepstakes and we were able to set the tone and the standard was incredible. I think we got off on the right foot and it just felt right overall.”

Whether it’s contest or just rehearsals, I’ve gotten a lot out of our program and I know I’ll take it with me forever.”

— Nick O'Con, 12

While the symphonic band’s concert season ended at UIL, the honors band advanced to compete in the Greater Southwest Music Festival and was awarded best in class, along with best overall band.

“I think the assumptions of anyone outside the band is that we just make first divisions in band and choir and that’s just how it works,” Sheffield said. “Within our organizations, there is always a level of doubt just like in any other organization. I don’t think people realize that we have our bumps in the road.”

Sheffield said success is not ensured.

“It’s not easy for us. We have to work at it, and we have to work at it daily,” Sheffield said. “That’s what makes it worth doing. It makes the success feel good. I was thrilled, very surprised, but ecstatic that the last moment we had of the year was that successful.”

Although Greater Southwest may have been the last contest for the band, Sheffield said their work does not end there. 

“Going into next year, we want to be traditional and innovative at the same time,” Sheffield said. “We want to make sure all of our fundamentals are in place, because fundamentals win championships. We want to do some things the audience has never seen, and I think we are going to do that.”

For both continuing band members and graduating seniors, senior Nick O’Con said the successes and experiences found in the band program will live with them beyond contests and school years.

“Mr. Sheffield always tells us that we’re one big family and honestly throughout the years I really have gotten to see that,” O’Con said. “Some people go, some come in, we just get to grow and keep the family going. We all have a legacy to keep here, and Mr. Sheffield makes sure to keep that alive. Whether it’s contest or just rehearsals, I’ve gotten a lot out of our program and I know I’ll take it with me forever.”