Cinnaminson Marching Band Ends Season as Calvacade of Bands Champions


Courtesy of Cinnaminson Band

Senior Drum Major April Schultz and Band Director Ms. Knisely pose with Calvacade of Bands Championship trophy on Sunday, November 11, 2018

Lynette Mariano, Staff Writer

Entering this season, the Cinnaminson High School marching band had hopes of coming in first in the Cavalcade of Bands, a non-profit organization that stages local and regional competitions, where the band placed fourth in last year’s final championship competition. 

“We had been undefeated,” band teacher and director, Ms. Knisley, stated. “(Last year) we (came) in fourth out of 17 total bands even with the loss of a soloist – it was a pretty good achievement.”

Coming into this year, the marching band was once again dominant throughout the competition schedule, having placed first in every competition once again entering the New Jersey Calvacade of Bands State Championships on November 3.  The amazing part of the band is that its small size of only 17 members did not dampen its spirit despite their size. Their dedication and teamwork has earned the group high marks for best music and best visual by judges in each competition.

“At the beginning of this season, I didn’t have many expectations, because we are very small,” Ms. Knisley explains. “Our expectation was to just put on the best show that we could, have fun with it, and not to go out there and embarrass the great name of Cinnaminson. But what really happened was the kids worked really hard – and people don’t notice that we don’t have trumpets or other bell-front brass, or that we are that small. They just notice the hard work that students put in, and we are being rewarded for it.”

April Schultz, senior tuba player, adds, “I’ve been in it for five years, and I joined in 8th grade. I think what makes this year so special is because we’re so small, we really didn’t think we were gonna go anywhere. I feel like ever since I joined, we’ve only gotten better, even though we’ve only gotten smaller.”

Cinnaminson belongs to the Calvacade of Bands group, which, according to its Wikipedia page, is a “is one of many competitive band organizations in the United States and is one of several major circuits in the mid-Atlantic states.”  The page goes on to say that “the organization currently has over 145 member schools and it provides a large array of competitive performance opportunities including marching band, indoor guard, percussion, dance teams, and jazz ensemble. Cavalcade sanctions approximately 42 field band events.”

Currently, because of the size of our band, we compete in the Independence class where bands have between 1-39 members in the entire band.

With their small size, there is a large sense of obligation for each individual student especially since mistakes are easier to find amongst bands with less than a hundred members. However, the students remain confident and well-praised with the duties they have to carry, such as not only playing an instrument, but learning color guard as well, considering there was only one color guard member at the beginning of the season.

“Besides two of the woodwinds, we do band guard, so we put our instruments down at one point of the show, and we pick up flags,” junior Dom Marinelli says. “What the judges say about us is, that for such a small band, each individual person takes on a lot of responsibility because our form and the way we march is so precise. We’ve gotten a lot of kudos for that. Our show, our theme…judges have called it ‘genius.’”

With her students, Ms. Knisley herself has earned recognition and new opportunities.

“She’s been offered to teach at the New Jersey Music Educators Association (NJMEA) to help smaller bands project their sound, and to use their sources,” Marinelli says.

Annie Buyser, senior saxophone player, also adds that Ms. Knisley will help other bands “to use the field wisely. The field is their stage.”

Each season, the marching band focuses on a theme for their musical showcase – this year’s theme being “shades.”

“It’s all interpretation,” says Buyser. “‘Shades’ can either  mean sunglasses or actual colors, which is why we have different color flags, or we wear tie-dye colored shirts, which sounds ridiculous, but it makes sense.”

Some of the big events for our school’s band this season were the grand re-opening of Walmart and Rush School’s Halloween Parade that took place on October 31st.  However, the biggest goal was for the team to win the NJ State Championships at Vineland on Nov. 3 and the overall championship for the Indepedence Divison at the Calvacade of Band Championships in Hershey on Nov. 11.

The team handily outscored all 11 members of their local Independence Division at the NJ State Championships on Nov. 3 when it achieved a 92.65 score, a full 4.5 points above the next competitor, Palmyra.

Then, the team traveled to Hershey and once again dominated the competition to the tune of a 93.7 score at the Regional Calvacade of Band Championships to end as overall division champions out of 15 teams from the entire state of PA and NJ.  The next closest band was Columbia Borougg with a 91.2 from Pennsylvania.

Ms. Knisely was thrilled for the kids and the entire arts program at Cinnaminson with the finish.

“Its a great feeling knowing that the 17 performers that were out there on the field all worked together as a single unit and just to know that they had enough faith in each other to be able to do that and just watching them from the sidelines, I was done with it all. I gave it to them and they had to do with it and they did a very excellent job in this nearly flawless performance, and it’s really great to see that all this really hard work paid off. it was a great feat being the very smallest – and i mean by a lot – the very smallest group, to come away with such rewards is very satisfying for Cinnaminson High School,” Ms. Knisely said.

Ms. Knisely went on to thank the students for their incredible accomplishment.

“I would think that it’s just a testament to the hardworking students that we have here and the great support that our music program has across the board that we were able to put something together like this and have it peak when it was supposed to,” she continued.  “It shines a very bright and positive light and support for the arts here at Cinnaminson.”

The championship was the second in its history for CHS, after winning the title in 2004.