The award-winning Clear Falls Knights Band focuses on excellence in performance, hard work, and having fun with friends along the way. Band serves as the backbone of our high school experience, driving us succeed in everything we do. Is it a time commitment? Absolutely, but one that pays off in our friendships, our achievement, and even our time management skills! Many of our seniors believe that choosing to be in the band is one of the most important decisions they made in high school.
Our Fall marching season begins with Marching Camp that starts first week of August as we prepare our marching show for the season. Hundreds of musicians and our award-winning color guard welcome new students, work hard, and practice challenging music and fast-paced drill to start our amazing year. When school starts we switch to a schedule of 8 hours of rehearsal after school each week. At each football game halftime, the band plays for the Emeralds dance team and then performs our marching show. We also play stand music during the games, with our battery leading rhythms, and of course the fight song for each touchdown! Each game ends with the football team and cheerleaders on the field in front of the band as we all join in the school song.
Our key focus is four marching band competitions each season, which are judged for musicianship, marching and overall effects. We compete as part of UIL Region 17 and the very competitive Marching Area E. As a 6A school, we have the potential to qualify for the State Marching Band Contest in even years. Marching band is BIG in Texas and we challenge ourselves to improve each year as our band develops to be one of the best. At our final practice, seniors give short speeches thanking the members and directors and talking about the amazing experience they had with the band. We end the season with a finale performance at our last game, where the parents and volunteers can all gather to see the show one last time.
TMEA Region Auditions
Throughout marching session, our members are also preparing challenging etudes on their instruments for audition for All-Region Band. All members of Wind Ensemble and many members of Symphonic Band audition for these honors. For those instruments that also play in the Orchestra, the first region audition is in November, followed by a clinic and concert for those who qualify. Freshman have the opportunity to audition for Region Band Honors in the 9th grade competition, also held in November. Most band members audition for Region Band in December, and those who qualify participate in a two day clinic followed by a Saturday evening concert. From these auditions, a select set of musicians qualify to audition for Area in January, and our top musicians qualify as prestigious TMEA All-State musicians, participating in a 3-day clinic led by nationally recognized conductors and culminating in a concert at the Texas Music Educators Association Annual Clinic/Convention held in February.
Solo and Ensemble Competition
Our students polish their solo and ensemble skills through the spring in preparation for either the UIL Solo and Ensemble Competition or the CFHS Solo and Ensemble competition, both held in February. Each musician prepares a solo to be performed for adjudication. Groups of students also choose to rehearse small ensemble pieces such as quartets or quintets to enter. Those that obtain a superior in the UIL contest receive a medal.
All members of the band can choose to participate in a trip during part of Spring Break each year. In odd years we travel out of state, and in even years we stay within the state. Each student pays the cost of their participation in installments. The educational components of the trip have included clinics to play music with Disney films, college tours, and performances. The fun components of the trip have featured amusement parks and tours of the place we are visiting.
Our concert season features our three ensembles on stage performing concert band works and competing in the UIL Region 17 Concert and Sight Reading Contest. Our Ensembles are:
- Wind Ensemble: Our most elite group of musicians play advanced repertoire, and compete as our Varsity ensemble in UIL.
- Symphonic Band: Play a challenging repertoire and compete as Non-Varsity.
- Concert Band: Develop their ensemble performance skills and compete as our Sub Non-Varsity ensemble.
We warm up for concert season with a Holiday Concert held before winter break. Then we immediately begin preparing our concert works for the spring UIL competition. We perform several concerts before the competition held in late April/Early May. At the competition, each concert performance is followed by the band moving to a side room where they are given a very short period of time to view a piece of music no one has seen before and then sight read it as a group. Parents and guests are able to watch both the concert and the sight reading, which many see as one of the most amazing aspects of the event. Our performance is adjudicated by 3 judges, and we seek the coveted “Sweepstakes” for all Superior (1) ratings in both the concert and sight reading portions. In even years, we also record the Wind Ensemble concerts for entry into the TMEA Honor Band competition.
In May, our concert season ends with a fun concert that also includes the Winter Guard and Jazz Band. At the final concert the directors honor our seniors and we announce their plans after high school. The students “honor” the directors as well. Before school ends, we have auditions for next year’s ensembles and color guard, auditions for band leadership for the next year, pad camp for percussion, a Mini Marching camp to welcome rising freshman, and a final banquet.
Other Ensembles & Performance Opportunities
Our musicians and performers have opportunities to play in a number of other ensembles and events throughout the year.
Musicians on jazz instruments, who are accepted by audition, register for an additional elective class and have the opportunity for the TMEA Region Jazz Auditions, additional concerts and “gigs.”
Our percussionists continue to perform as an ensemble, with additional events, competitions, and concerts. Percussion ensemble begins after marching season ends, and generally meets after school once or twice per week.
Our top wind players join with top string players in the Clear Falls Orchestra to perform together as a full Symphony Orchestra. Performances include a Winter Concert, competing in the UIL Varsity Full Orchestra Concert and Sight Reading Contest, and a Spring Concert. Only three high schools in Region 17 have Varsity Full Orchestras. Full orchestra begins after marching season ends, and generally meets after school once per week. CFHS also has an annual Concerto Competition where top strings and winds can have the opportunity to play part of a concerto with the full orchestra at their final concert.
Rehearsals begin in November for the annual CFHS Musical combining the talents of students in theatre, choir, band and orchestra and held in February. Band and string members are selected to perform in the Pit Orchestra to provide the music for the show. A number of multi-talented band members also choose to audition and participate as singers and dancers.
All Symphonic and Wind Ensemble members who are not seniors support their friends and play for Graduation in May.