Allyson Heard, Editor

The Slater marching band is known for their multitude of awards, catchy tunes, and beautifully executed halftime performances. Coordinating a band that big is no easy task and takes months to plan.  

Mr. Hahn recently answered the questions we’ve all been wondering; how do you direct the band? 

How long does it take to have the whole performance planned?  

“Planning typically begins in March and the final product continues to change and evolve right up until the final performance in early November.”  

How do you pick the theme each year? 

“Each winter I begin to listen to arrangements that are available for purchase on music distribution sites such as JW Pepper, Arranger’s Publishing Company, and Hal Leonard. I occasionally listen to music on other independent publishers’ sites, but those are typically too expensive for us. What I am listening for are arrangements that not only sound good, but will challenge our students musically and also entertain the crowds at football games and competitions. I typically settle on a theme that revolves around a single artist or group (The Beatles, Tower of Power, or Earth Wind and Fire), a Broadway musical (West Side Story, Riverdance, the Sound of Music, and Jekyll and Hyde), or movie themes (The Mask of Zorro). Sometimes, the music is original, never used for any other purpose or group.”  

Does anyone help you plan/pick the performance each year?   

“The Marching Band staff includes an Assistant Director, Mr. Brian Smith; a Color Guard Instructor, Ms. Marissa Murgia; a Percussion Instructor, Mrs. Erica Davidson; and a General Effect Advisor, Dr. Kathryn Hahn. All of these staff members have the opportunity to weigh in on the show selection and assist me with the final choice. Each also plays an integral role in the implementation of the show each year. I would not be able to do what I do without them.” 

What are important deciding factors that go into planning each performance? 

“The music drives the show. We are, first and foremost, a band. Once the right music has been chosen, the drill (marching movements) and Color Guard choreography are created. The visual motions of the instrumentalists and the flag routine must work together to enhance the music being performed. May, June, July, and August are spent making these aspects of the show absolutely perfect in order to bring the production to its fullest potential. In the end, the show must challenge the students, entertain the crowd, and impress the judges at our competitions in order to be completely successful.”  

How do you plan the choreography for the performance? 

“The choreography must enhance the music, so every visual aspect of the production is created with the music in mind. Fast, intense music is typically accompanied by quick, percussive motions while slow, lyrical music is accompanied by gentle, flowing motions. If we’re doing our job well, someone watching the show without being able to hear the music should understand what the music sounds like just based on the visual performance.” 

Obviously planning the band’s performance is a difficult task, but the Slater Nation is lucky to have Mr. Hahn to make sure everything is perfect.