Frequently Asked Questions

New Member FAQ

Can I participate in McNeil sports teams and band?

Absolutely. We have students that have participated in every different sport and remained in band at the same time. Students who are active in fall sports (football, swimming, volleyball or cross country) would not be able to participate in marching band but could still be in a band class in the fall.

Do I have to be in a band class everyday?

Yes. The only people who are exempt from that are those that have communicated to the directors about not having enough room in their schedule for both classes.

Are all the freshmen in one class?

No. We will have auditions beginning at the end of April/beginning of May that will determine which of our three bands you will be in at the start of school. At the conclusion of auditions, we will give our counselors a list of who should be in which band.

Since incoming freshmen have to turn in choice sheets by early March and most of them will be in Concert Band, we ask them to all schedule that class. This prevents our counselors from having to make so many changes after auditions are held in May. We actually have two bands that meet at that period but rehearse in different rooms.

What will we have to play for auditions?

The audition will consist of two brief etudes, 12 major scales (full range) and the chromatic scale. The audition music and information will be posted on this website by April.

One of the three directors at McNeil will listen to you play a live audition at your school. If you are coming from a school other than Deerpark MS or Cedar Valley MS, please contact a director to set up an audition time.

Do I have to be in marching band?

Yes! All members of the McNeil Band are in the marching band, except for those members who are scheduled in a McNeil athletic class that competes in the fall or practices at the same time as the marching band.

For most members in the band, marching band season is the most exciting part of the year. It is the only group that utilizes every member of the band and it is also an opportunity for you to get to know everyone in the band and not just the members of your ensemble.

When does summer band start and is it required?

This year (2017) we will start with new members on July 25. All band members will rehearse weekdays from July 31 to August 11. The weekday rehearsal will be from 7:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

On August 14, 15, and 16 we will have three evening rehearsals from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Summer band is mandatory for all members of the marching band.

We will also have a couple of brief rehearsals this May to help introduce our freshmen to the marching band skills. Check our “Charms” calendar for those dates.

How much time does marching band require and will it effect my grades?

Our normal rehearsal schedule is 7.5 hours per week. That is 30 minutes less than UIL permits us to rehearse.

We rehearse the marching band from 4:45 pm to 7:15 pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. On game days, we do a run-through of our show from 8:00 am until 8:30 am with our dance team, the Majestics.

We participate in four or five marching band competitions that are usually held on Saturdays in October. As soon as our competition season is over, we rehearse one morning a week until football season is over in early November (unless we make the playoffs).

Most of the students in the band manage their classes and grades very well during marching season. It helps if you are taking a manageable class load, not trying to do multiple activities (like marching band and a part-time job) and using your time wisely.

Band Basics

How can band parents stay in the loop?

Weekly Band Notes are emails issued by the Directors to the students and parents. These will keep you up to date on rehearsal times, call times, etc. If for any reason, you can’t find your weekly Band Notes, you can read them on the Charms website.

Call or email your Band Buddy. Band Buddies are parents of upperclassmen who have volunteered to help you be anything but clueless. A Buddy should be assigned to you before the start of Summer Band Camp.

You can really stay on top of what’s happening by attending announced parent meetings, attending the McNeil High School Band Booster general membership meetings and reading its newsletter, which is published online several times during the year.

Be assured that your teen is not the only teen who doesn’t communicate with his parents. Don’t hesitate to pick up the phone or email another band parent. We think it was Einstein, or maybe it was a senior parent, who has been quoted as saying, “The only dumb question is the one that wasn’t asked.”

How do band students earn letter jackets?

Band letter jackets may be purchased at the end of the academic year by any sophomore band or guard member who has completed two years of continuous service to the band and who is scheduled to CONTINUE in band. Band students may buy a jacket at the end of their freshmen year if they have met the following requirements:

  • Participate in both the UIL Solo and Ensemble Contest and the Texas Music Educators Region Band Competition.

– and –

  • Receive a First Division on a Class 1 solo OR made and participated in the TMEA Region 26 All-Region Band.

LETTERS are awarded by Round Rock Independent School District at no cost to qualified students, but the cost of the jacket is paid for by the student.

I’ve heard that band is very time consuming for students, is that true?

Yes, students do spend a lot of time in rehearsal. Summer band usually starts the first week of August, though some instruments will have sectionals or summer camps earlier in the summer. The first football game of the season is usually the first week of school, so the band needs to have a half time show and stand tunes ready BEFORE the first week of school.

Students need to have time to rehearse the show, adjust to playing their instrument while moving, rather than sitting down, and to have time to come together as a band. However, think about it this way: your student spends a LOT of time with other band students and a LOT of time at the school.

So, before the first day of classes, your student has already made 200+ friends and has become very familiar with the layout of the school – or at least the band hall, cafeteria, rehearsal fields, restrooms, choir rooms, and practice rooms.

Students receive a fine arts credit AND a PE waiver for marching band. Colleges LOVE to see band listed on student transcripts – it shows dedication and commitment– and there are MANY chances to excel at a personal level (region/area band and orchestra, solo and ensemble) and to show leadership (officers, section leaders, uniform crew, loading crue, librarians, drum majors) in band.

Students not only learn how to play their instrument and how to perform in front of an audience, but they learn responsibility, time management, leadership skills, team building. Band teaches students to look out for others, to do their fair share, and gives them a sense of camaraderie and community.

Rehearsal times ‘normalize’ during the school year. UIL mandates that for any given extracurricular activity, students are limited to no more than eight (8) hours of practice and rehearsal outside the school day per school week per activity. Our band directors are adamant about this rule.

What is “No Pass, No Play”?

The Texas Education Agency defines band as a performing art and concert and marching performances are an extension of class time. Attendance at rehearsals and performances is required and is a part of the band grade.

A student will be suspended from participating in any extracurricular activity (marching band activities, pep rallies, parades, UIL solo and ensemble and other competitions) after a six week grading period in which a student receives a grade below a 70. The student will remain eligible and responsible for band and technique class requirements including sectionals and performances.

Interim progress reports are issued in the middle of each six week period to students who are borderline or failing a class. Students can ‘regain’ eligibility at this time if he/she is passing.

What is a call time?

Call time is the time that the students must be ready (dressed in uniform, full water bottle, instrument, sitting in cafeteria) to meet prior to loading the buses.

What is a pass-off?

A pass-off is a test. Students are sometimes required to play (pass off) music for a grade or seating assignment. The directors or section leaders may provide feedback on any deficiencies.

Fees

Is it expensive to be a part of the McNeil Maverick Band?

Band fees and expenses at McNeil are at or below the costs of participating in band at any other RRISD high school and our fee schedule is considerably LOWER than fees at other non-RRISD high schools in the area.

Comparing fees with other McNeil HS activities (like football, cheerleading, Majestics, lacrosse, baseball, volleyball), our fee schedule is still much lower than most of these other MHS organizations.

Our fees have increased over the past couple of years, but most of these increases reflect higher costs for transportation, supplies, and equipment, and the district-required GameDayMeal plan.

What is included in the General Expense Fee?

General Expenses ‑ these defray the cost of non-budgeted operational expenses which include:

  • Musical arrangement for the field show
  • Drill design for the field show
  • Guest clinicians
  • Master class teachers
  • Color guard supplies
  • Marching show sets and props
  • Summer Band field technical instruction
  • Marching competition transportation and food
  • Uniform cleaning (a must in the heat of August and September)
Fundraising

How do the Band Boosters raise money?

Most of the money raised by the Band Boosters comes from the operation of the food concession stands during football season. The concession stands at Peters Stadium (near Round Rock High School) and Kelly Reeves Stadium (on Parmer Lane) are co-ordinated by BCOB (Band Concession Operating Board) but staffed by parents from the ‘home’ team’s band.

The boosters also operate concessions at middle school home games, freshman home games, and junior varsity home games, all of which are played at the [insert location here]. The operation of these stands requires the full participation by all band parents. Each band family is expected to work at least ONE concession shift per season.

Round Rock ISD also hosts playoff football games at its two stadiums. Concessions at these games are jointly shared by all Round Rock band booster clubs.

Game Days

What are Game Day Meals?

Game Day meals are meals provided to the students prior to a football game. The final bell rings at 4:10 and the students must be ready at Call Time (usually 5:00 or 5:30). That means they have 50 minutes or so to eat, change into their uniforms, fill up their water bottle, grab their instrument, and be ready to meet (Call Time) prior to loading the buses. Purchasing Game Day meals ensures that your student has a meal before the football game and alleviates your needing to bring a meal up to the school. With buses returning to school around 11:00 pm, Game Days become very long.

What does my child need to bring on game days?

On Game Days, students need to bring the following:

  • marching shoes
  • black crew socks
  • compression shorts
  • spirit shorts
  • show shirt

Many students wear their show shirt to school.

Where do I buy football season tickets?

If you are new to the band program, you can buy season football tickets at Kelly Reeves Stadium when they go on sale to the general public. Look on the RRISD website for more information on ticket sales. You will be able to buy home game tickets (including those home games played at Dragon Stadium).

If you do not want to buy season football tickets, you may purchase home game tickets at either the school during lunch periods (or at the Athletic Offices before or after lunch). Tickets may also be purchased at the home stadium at the time of the game.

If you are a returning season ticket holder, you will be contacted by the RRISD Athletic Department sometime in July to let you know when you can renew your season tickets.

Away game tickets can be purchased at the away stadium.

Where do I sit at the football games?

Here is where your Band Spirit Wear will come in handy. Most band parents sit near the band and the best way to identify band parents is by their band t-shirts. This is a great way to make new friends!

Marching Basics

What are marching auditions? Aren’t all students in the marching band?

The marching band consists of 2 groups: Varsity and Non-Competitive Spots (NCS). Marching auditions determine which students are on Varsity and which are on NCS. All students march at the football games.

Just like a sports team with a fixed number of players in a game, the marching drills are designed with a fixed instrumentation and number of spots on the field. If a spot opens up in the show due to injury or academic ineligibility, the varsity spots can easily be filled by NCS members who have been working on the music and drill all season. Auditions for the varsity spots are held in early August and are based on marching and playing tests and ‘pass offs.’

Varsity students march during competitions. NCS students attend all competitions to support their fellow band members and to watch other school’s marching shows. This is a great opportunity for the NCS students to learn about marching and see what other schools are doing.

NCS students are often needed to help with sideline crew, pit crew, and to perform with props and electronic equipment. Even though NCS students may not perform on the field during competitions, all students perform during the half time shows at football games and in the stands.

What can I expect during summer band?

Summer Band camp starts the first week of August. Attendance is mandatory. Some sections (color guard, drum line, front line percussion) also hold week-long camps in mid-July. Some sections may also hold sectionals throughout the summer to get a jump on the show music.

Camp schedules may vary from day-to-day, but count on them being all day long, with a break for lunch. Students are encouraged to stay on campus and bring a lunch from home but they are allowed leave campus to eat. Students are asked to dress for the weather (HOT! It is Texas, after all.) and wear comfortable tennis shoes.

A hat and sunglasses are suggested. Sunscreen is a VERY good idea. Students are required to bring a FULL water jug to practice each day. Brief water breaks are held often. If the weather becomes too hot, students head indoors for sectionals or to work on music performance.