UIL is just not another festival. It is where you see if you and your students understand the rubric and can perform at a level. It is a measuring tape—where is my program at this time... unfortunately some are centered on getting a first division rather than using this as a measure of how effective is my teaching. The keeping up with the marching arts comment is odd—-if you are doing that you are following what BOA advocates. Frankly many programs are not built along the “BOA” way. That is fortunate because to compete in that type contest requires money, staff, community commitment and kid commitment. There are many programs in this state that are outstanding, but they have also gone a different direction than “marching arts” and they follow a different philosophy that works for the kids And the community of that school.
UIL is a test and if you do not think your kids are ready, don’t expose them to that yet. Go to festivals, bring in clinicians so the kids have the experience of being observed, or competing in a way that is still educational, but does not have the ramifications of a UIL rating. Learn what works for your kids. Many complain about UIL, but success in that venue can be fairly simple. Rule one—play well. Find the best bands in your class, or one, or two classes Above your group. Listen to them and work to make your band sound similar. If your group sounds “Young” work on tonal maturity. Work on a full warm up cycle that builds tone and endurance. Playing on cycle of long tones, or remingtons for 30 seconds to a minute, or two does not build good well centered tones. Your warm up should be focused and deliberate with specifc goals.
Second—move well on the field. Demonstrate the kids understand what ever technique you are using. Most kids can do this well, but you have to detail and be specific in what you want. Above all, do whAt works for your kids. No one can tell you to go to UIL, or not. This is your call and do what is best for your kids.
UIL is not the know all be all, it is just another festival, most of the time judged by people that have not kept up with the marching arts.
Never forget UIL is a fund raiser for UT.
My tiny marching band did a festival last week. We're not going to UIL since we're rebuilding. Out of 20 kids, 6 are beginners, 2 are second year players. We only put one piece of our show on the field. Talking to another director about not doing UIL, he said I'm cheating my students. I talked to a couple of the judges. They would have given us a 3-4 with a week before UIL. I told the other director that I disagreed with him. I said going to UIL and being picked apart would have done more harm than good. It was an achievement just for us to put something on the field and be judged. A lot of bands take a year or two off from UIL Marching. Our plan is to build up numbers and try UIL next year. If not, we'll go back to the same festival and do better.