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2005 Granite Bay View Article

Archive » March 2005 » Precious notes at GBHS
Precious notes at GBHS
GBHS Emerald Brigade marching band celebrates eight successful seasons 
Date Published: March 2005
reprinted below.....
By Susan Jameson
[Courtesy Photo/]

The Emerald Brigade won Grand Sweepstakes at the Pacific Grove competition on Nov. 6.

GBHS junior Greg Frink jams on his alto horn at the same competition.
[Susan Jameson/Granite Bay View]

Paul Everts is the Emerald Brigade and GBHS band director.
But the Granite Bay High Band and Emerald Brigade director beams when singing the praises of his students and the progress the award-winning music program has made over the last eight years. 

"We have placed in every competition in eight years. We have received superior ratings for our concert band festivals. We have winter percussion and winterguard who have placed numerous times. We are the only band to participate two consecutive years in the Sacramento Memorial Day Parade. I'm proud of that," says Everts. "We also provide music for the nursing care facilities at Christmas and in the spring. We also provide music at the football games and eight basketball games - four girls and four boys."

They were also listed in the Best of the Best issue of Sacramento Magazine last year as the second best marching band in the Sacramento area.

Things weren't always this sweet, however, for the successful high school band. Even before Everts relocated from Monterey with his wife Diane and their two children, Paul Joseph (P.J.), now 10, and Kathryn, now 8, some parents expressed concerns over splitting the then newly formed Granite Bay-Oakmont High School band.

Everts credits Granite Bay High Principal Ron Severson with getting the program off the ground. He also says that support from Oakmont band director Richey Hodge helped a great deal. 

"Teaching is the only college educated profession that everyone knows how to do better," says Everts. "I've been teaching for 16 years and in those 16 years I have had some great experiences and some equally bad ones."

Despite the rocky start, the first time the Emerald Brigade competed against Oakmont, the Granite Bay marching band got first place. And it has not stopped its stream of successes.

The band started with 39 students and has grown to its current 100 musicians. 

"I would like it to be bigger but for a four by four block schedule it is not possible," says Everts. "We make it a full year by having zero period in the spring for band."

Parent support of the program has grown over the years as well, with each year of success garnering less opposition. Parent organizations, like the Emerald Brigade Support Organization (EBSO) not only help with funding the program, but haul equipment, prepare meals and arrange special engagements for the marching band. In fact, the EBSO helped raise enough money to purchase new uniforms for the Emerald Brigade.

"One uniform (the white one) is used for field shows, which are at night," says Everts, "and the other (an emerald green one) is for games and parades during the day."

The new uniforms were worn for the first time at a Nov. 6 competition in Pacific Grove, where the band won Grand Sweepstakes, the highest combined score for both parade and field show. 

EBSO President Bill Short says that although the two primary purposes of the EBSO are to raise money and to provide assistance at all of the band functions, the main purpose is a more direct supportive role.

"Most importantly," says Short, "the EBSO is there to encourage the kids, laugh with the kids and provide lots of hugs."

The group, lead by a board of eight parents and Everts, also manages the band's budget of about $80,000 a year.

"This money pays for new instruments, support equipment, competition fees, transportation costs and other sustaining expenses," explains Short.

Despite the support of parents and administration, and the enthusiasm of Everts and his students, the band program is experiencing some growing pains - especially concerning space.

"The capacity (of the band room) says 106, but that doesn't really include all the percussion instruments and chairs and stands," says Everts. "We've outgrown the band room, so during the fall we meet outside for zero period at seven in the morning."

Although the great outdoors does solve some space issues, other concerns have developed over the years.

"When we started there were no houses around the school," explains Everts. "So we started at 6:30 in the morning."

Now, the sound travels to surrounding homes, causing some problems with homeowners who don't necessarily want to be woken up by the band. Everts sees a bigger band room as a possible solution but says that although he tried to get it added to Measure J, there were other district priorities. 

"Music is a very economical class," says Everts, his frustration with funding obvious.

With larger classes and instruments that last years, music is an economical investment, according to Everts. But it is more than economics that makes school music programs beneficial. Everts believes that lifelong lessons are learned in band that cannot be learned in other activities or subjects.

"Band uses both sides of the brain at the same time," he says. "Your whole brain is stimulated."

According to Everts, four out of the last six graduating class valedictorians have come from band. He believes that this is in part due to the fact that they have had the discipline and stimulation of band since fifth grade. 

"I don't teach music I teach people," says Everts. "My philosophy is teach life through music. I am looking at them, not as future musicians, but as future husbands and wives, as future parents. For me life is respect, responsibility and discipline. ... They will learn about relationships - good and bad, sacrifice, time management, consequences of choices and forgiveness."

Time management and commitment are certainly two skills needed for marching band. For four or five Saturdays last fall, the Emerald Brigade participated, and placed, in competitions at Del Oro, Pacific Grove and Oakmont, among others.

"Between games and competitions, these students were out nine Saturdays in a row," says Everts, adding that often the students arrived at 5 a.m. to head to a competition, not to return until late at night.

But the commitment is no greater than any other extracurricular activity, Everts points out, and certainly not more than any other competitive band in the same demographic. 

"For the kids it's an activity. You are playing the same ten minutes of music, cause you have to memorize it. You are learning maybe 40-60 pages of drill. But they love it," says Everts. "It gets the parents involved. It's a collaborative effort."

The band will continue its busy schedule this spring with a recent Bandtastic concert on Feb. 26, upcoming concerts on April 1 and May 25 and 26 at the GBHS Theatre and the Music for Hope Concert on April 15. 

The April 15 concert will include Oakmont, Roseville, Woodcreek and Granite Bay high school bands all performing at the Granite Bay High School Theatre beginning at 7 p.m.

"It's the one thing that the four high schools do together. Each band performs about 20 minutes."

The concert was originally conceived as a fundraiser for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and later the American Cancer Society.

"We had a band mom die of ALS (Wendy Hunt)," says Everts. "When she was first diagnosed she came to me and said she would like to do a fundraiser for that." 

Everts says there was a time when the band had five parents with cancer as well, so the American Cancer Society was added as a recipient of funds raised by the event.

"We've raised over $25,000 in six years," says Everts. "Half the proceeds go to the American Cancer Society and the other half go to the ALS society."

In addition to the Emerald Brigade marching band and concert band, Granite Bay High also has a successful colorguard. The colorguard marches with the band, adding a visual component through routines with flags, rifles and sabers. They also participate in separate competitions during the winter.

Everts' wife Diane, a music therapy major, started the colorguard program at GBHS, but the program is now lead by xxx Quicho

"Most of the colorguard has come out of the band because there is not a colorguard at the junior high level," says Everts.

Many of the colorguard participants are kids who have lost interest in their instrument but still want to be a part of the band. Everts believes that a junior high level colorguard would help get kids interested in the group. In fact, he gives a lot of credit for the success of the high school band to the music programs in the lower grades.

"April Haynes at Cavitt and Elaine Wersky at Olympus are the reason that we are good," states Everts. "Norm Bartlett at Eureka is also great at getting them started in band."

The group meets, along with elementary school general music and choir teacher Bev Huston, several times a year to talk over curriculum and to brainstorm ways to improve the program.

Their efforts seem to pay off with a strong music program for Granite Bay students and life-long lessons in the power of commitment.

"I want my students to learn that hard work equals success," says Everts.

And they have a good example of just that in Everts.

Susan Jameson is the editor of the Granite Bay View.