DGS marching band gets back into the rhythm of hosting the Music Bowl

More stories from Marty Blader


Liv Balicki, third year member of the Marching Mustangs, wears her 2019 Music Bowl shirt to show support for this year’s upcoming Music Bowl.

The Music Bowl is a competition hosted by the DGS Marching Band for other schools to showcase their performances. Last year, due to COVID-19 guidelines the annual DGS Music Bowl was unable to take place along with the rest of the marching band’s competitive season. This gap year has led to obstacles for the Marching Mustangs that have come up upon hosting the Music Bowl.

In years past, the band directors and upperclassmen would teach the freshmen their responsibilities in running this event. However, this year unlike any other year, both freshmen and sophomores have yet to participate, doubling the amount of inexperience. Music teacher and Band Director Gregory Hensel reflected on how they are handling this unknown situation.

“There’s a lot of education that has to happen with students and parents. There’s a lot of students that it’s going to be … a little surprising to see how much actually goes into hosting [the Music Bowl]. Luckily we have a strong group of alumni parents that have worked the event in the past, and a lot of those parents have reached out to us to help coach and train new parents that might be stepping into those roles,” Hensel said.

Prior to the pandemic, each band would have a performance, and if the band scored well they could potentially move on to the finals to perform once more. However, this year there is only the initial performance and scoring is only based on that routine. Junior and third year percussionist on the marching band, Liv Balicki, explained the pros and cons for a band student dealing with this new competition structure.

“This year all the competitions just have one performance so our competition days are a lot shorter. Freshman year we would get back at 10 at night or one in the morning from the competition, but now we’re done at six or eight [p.m.]. It’s bittersweet; it’s fun performing a second time, but it’s a really long day,” Balicki said.

The Marching Mustangs, along with other bands in the area, have dealt with the issue of lower participation. From competitions this year compared to the 2019 season, there has been noticeable reductions in the size of bands. Less band students from other schools coming to the Music Bowl results in less money the DGS marching band can raise for next season.

“We are always thinking what we could sell at concessions, and could we do a digital program for COVID, so we’re not handing out hardcopies of programs, how much should we charge for tickets at the gate to come in, and can we sell T-shirts, and do other things like that. That’s really the big thing with fewer numbers of kids; that’s less kids who might be buying a hot dog at concessions, which would help us raise money, in turn helping the band program in general,” Hensel said.

On top of the competition aspect, the Music Bowl is a fundraiser for the DGS Marching Band and the individuals within this program. Hensel put in perspective the importance of this event for the Marching Mustangs.

“Any of the proceeds that we make at the Music Bowl help go towards lowering the fee that it costs students to participate in marching band for the following season. To put it in perspective, two years ago if you were in a marching band it was about $450 to be in the Marching Band. This past year it was about $650 because we didn’t have a Music bowl last year, and we didn’t have that revenue to help lower the cost for each student to participate,” Hensel said.

While COVID has created more challenges for preparing the Marching Mustangs for their competitive season, the band directors feel confident in the band’s ability to have a successful season.

“Our goal has been let’s get everything to as high a level as we can get it and feel really good and proud of [the performance] going into the show, and so far we’ve done that. We felt really great about our first contest on Saturday at Lake Park, and we actually scored right in line where we would normally score at Lake Park,” Hensel said.

If you would like to support the Marching Mustangs, this year’s Music Bowl is on Oct. 9 at 3 p.m. in the football stadium.