With the new school year in full swing, Roslyn High School’s Marching Bulldogs Band is preparing for another busy fall season.
Comprising 140 students and a 10-person staff, the two-time state champions are led by band director and music teacher Frank Mauriello.
“I knew it was a great program walking into it,” Mauriello said. “The administration’s fantastic, the parents are great, the kids are great, so I knew I was walking into something already established and something wonderful.”
The band rehearses once a week on Wednesdays and adds an extra rehearsal on nonperformance weekends in season. Every season is capped off with state championships at the New York State Field Band Conference in the Carrier Bowl at Syracuse University in late October. A band trip to Disney World in February marks the start of the off-season, and auditions for new members follow.
Each rehearsal begins with the drumline (marching percussion), pit (stationary percussion), color guard and winds (woodwind and brass instruments) meeting as sections to practice their parts, each group led by a student captain.
“We start by separating into groups,” Mauriello said. “After an hour or so of visual warmup, we bring it together, we get on the field, and we go through the parts of the show that need the most work or refining. We just try to set the students up for success.”
Mauriello was preceded in his position by Pat Patterson, who built the program from humble beginnings in 2001.
“The band was very small when I got there,” Patterson said. “The first thing I did was get everyone excited about it.”
Patterson expanded the band and added more to its calendar, including trips to the Orange and Peach Bowls, time at an upstate band camp in the summer and a parents’ club called the Band Fans.
“[The Band Fans] help us fundraise, they throw us a party in Syracuse at Dave and Buster’s, they help carry equipment on and off the field, they are 100 percent all hands on deck and we couldn’t do what we do without them,” Mauriello said.
Under Patterson’s direction, the Marching Bulldogs won their first state championship title in 2015. Now the director of the District I athletic band at LIU Post, Patterson handed off direction duties to Mauriello in 2016; both are former directors of Mineola High School’s band. Mauriello’s first full year as director brought the Bulldogs their second state win.
For this season, the Bulldogs have planned a program that “may ring as familiar to audiences,” Mauriello says. “There’s No Place Like Home,” based on the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz,” is a five-movement production, and the band will be using some “unique” tricks, in Mauriello’s words, to pull the story off.
“We have twisters, tornadoes, yellow brick roads, a witch’s castle, trick flags that turn from gray-black tornado colors to rainbow colors to show the difference between Kansas and Oz,” Mauriello said. “We also have flags for all the different characters, so it should be familiar.”
With this production, Roslyn, which won both of its titles in the Small School 3 division of its conference, is entering its second season in the Small School 2 division, which sees the band compete against different schools, including heavyweights like Oswego County’s Phoenix High School and last year’s champion, Mineola High School. Conference competition will occur throughout the season in Brentwood, Copiague, Malverne, Sachem and Mineola.
Before competitions begin, the Bulldogs will premiere their new program at a friends and family event at 3 pm on Saturday at Roslyn High School Field.