New Dartmouth High Band Director has same commitment to kids

This article appeared in the Dartmouth/Westport CRONICLE on October 21st by Curt Brown. To view the original article, please click here.

Ian Flint has succeeded the iconic Bill Kingsland

DARTMOUTH — The first time Ian Flint saw the Dartmouth High Marching Band was 1998 and he was a teenager in the Blue Ridge High School Marching Band in New Milford, Pennsylvania.

His high school didn’t have a football team, but it had a big-time, 120-member, competitive, marching band and that was how Flint first became acquainted with the Dartmouth High School Marching Band.

“I grew up watching the Dartmouth band. It’s a program I’ve always looked up to,” he said.

The following year in the spring of 1999, still a Pennsylvania high school student, Flint crossed paths with the DHS Indoor Percussive Unit at the World Championships in Dayton, Ohio.

“The level of excellence was so high. I’ve always wanted to be a part of something like that,” he said. “It has such a long-storied tradition.”

In 2006, Flint became part of DHS Marching Band program when he was named a system-wide brass instructor. He remained in that position until 2015 when he left to become the head band director at Bellows Free Academy Fairfax in Fairfax, Vermont.

And 22 years from when he first saw the Dartmouth band as a Pennsylvania teenager, Flint, now 39, replaced Bill Kingsland, who retired in June as the band’s director and the music director for Dartmouth Public Schools.

“For me, it is about continuing the tradition we have,” he said.

Superintendent of Schools Bonny Gifford said Flint is “a tremendous addition” to the Dartmouth music program.

“When I interviewed him I was impressed when he said he had his eye on this position for a long time. To prepare for a chance to be chosen he took a position in Vermont that would provide him with leadership experience. How many folks look so far ahead and do what is necessary to achieve their goals? He is enthusiastic, talented and well respected,” Gifford said in a statement.

It’s not an ideal time to take a band program under wing because of the pandemic, but Flint said he is focused on making this year as meaningful as possible for his students. “The students come first and they make it a great experience,” he said.

To say this year has been different is an understatement. Competitions are virtual. They are filmed at the stadium by DCTV and sent to the judges. The band season is half over and there have been no in-person concerts.

The woodwind and brass sections, the percussive and color guard don’t practice as one because of space limitations at the high school parking lot. The woodwind and brass sections practice 10 feet apart without masks. The percussive unit and color guard wear face coverings and are 6 feet apart. The shows are written specific for the spacing.

 

There will be no trip to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, where the band will be going for its fifth consecutive national championship. There will be no New Bedford Veterans’ Day Parade where the band was one of the crowd favorites, proudly marching down William Street to the delight of spectators. There is no traveling at all this year.

But even though the competition has been virtual, the results have been the same — the percussive and wind and color guard are all undefeated, according to Flint.

Madison Bettencourt, a 17-year-old DHS senior member and tri-captain of the color guard, said this is not the senior year she envisioned because of the pandemic, but Flint’s positive attitude has made it as enjoyable as possible. Many schools have dropped band all together because of the virus.

Bettencourt, who has been in the band for 6 1/2 years, said Kingsland is “an icon” with the band and in Dartmouth and Flint was faced with the enormous challenge of organizing a band season because of the limitations caused by COVID-19. “He came in and showed he can fill Mr. Kingsland’s shoes because this was not an easy task for anyone,” she said.

Still, she remains excited about the band season, saying they are “making history” by rehearsing through the pandemic, which is “special” because it has never been done before.

Bettencourt said people are suffering and others have it far worst than the band because of COVID-19. “I’m trying to remember that,” she said.

She also wanted to give credit to her two other tri-captains on the color guard, Mia Paynton and Ryley Thatcher, who with her have tried to make this band season a great experience for the younger color guard members.

Flint credits the band members for the results. “They’re doing it for themselves. That’s why virtual works for us,” he said. “It worked out better than I ever could have imagined. I don’t see any difference in the motivation.”

He told the band their competitive scores reflect their rehearsals. “Nothing comes easy. It’s all about hard work,” he said. “From the first day, they were ready to go. Let’s be great. The results happen because of the rehearsals. You can’t play defense (in band competitions). You can only play offense.”

Flint said he can’t wait for the pandemic to be over and for things to return to normal.

“It works. It’s good. It’s positive. Let’s keep pushing ahead,” he said.

Itinerary for Week of Oct. 5, 2020

There is no Winds performance this week, and Percussion has been moved to Sunday due to a scheduling conflict. 

The itinerary for this week’s rehearsals and performances can be viewed and downloaded from this link. It has been posted to the BAND app, and our online calendar has been updated as well.

The Itinerary now includes taping times so families can watch outside the stadium along the fence.  Friendly Reminder: Because it is town property, all bystanders should be wearing masks when viewing any one of the three recording sessions to be in compliance with town mandates.

Itinerary for Week of Sept 28,, 2020

The itinerary for this week’s rehearsals and performances can be viewed and downloaded from this link. It has been posted to the BAND app, and our online calendar has been updated as well.

Please be sure to read the itinerary for information on arrival/pick up times and any student uniform guidelines. Any questions about uniform criteria should be directed to the appropriate staff member for their section (Winds – Mr. Flint, Percussion – Mr. Aungst, Guard – Addison). 

PLEASE NOTE! As of this time, families are NOT allowed in the stadium to watch the performances. If/when this changes, the music office will send out an update.

With virtual concerts, DHS band proves the show can go on

This article appeared in the Dartmouth Week on September 20, 2020, by Christopher Shea. To view the original article, please click here.

Despite the postponement of Dartmouth football to February, Memorial Stadium is once again in-use. 

This weekend saw the first two socially distanced shows put on by Dartmouth High’s marching band as part of its fall season of virtual concerts. 

“It’s great to be able to do something like this,” percussion director Tom Aungst said. “The kids were really excited about the season.”

To prepare, the band has been having regular rehearsals via Zoom, Google classroom, and — in since August — in person.

The band is taking many physical precautions when it comes to Covid-19 safety. Students remain socially distant — six feet apart for regular instruments, and thirteen feet for wind instruments — and masks are required for all except those who need their breath to play.

“Six feet is pretty normal distancing for the drumline,” band director Ian Flint said. “Wind is a whole nother story.” 

To meet those regulations, shows were split into different days, with wind playing on Sept. 18  and percussion on Sept. 20. 

At the wind show, the band played a couple of jazz songs. At the percussion performance, the band played two songs about masks — “The Mask of Zorro” and the theme to “Phantom of the Opera.” 

“This music was actually something we did in 2001,” Flint said. “We weren’t sure if the competitive season would happen, so we chose something that would work for this season.”

Normally, the band would play these songs in-front of a judge where they can immediately get outside feedback on how they did. 

Since the concerts are done virtually, the band instead records its shows and uploads them online where judges will watch the submitted videos and rank the bands.

While this can take multiple takes, Flint said his students try their best to perform the song once.

“Our goal is always consistency,” Flint said. 

Aungst agreed, adding that, if anything, going virtual is “even more of a motivation” for the band.

Moving forward, Flint said he hopes to find a way to get parents watching the shows beyond standing by the fence. 

“We’re taking baby steps with this whole thing,” he said. “But I think at some point we can spread people out. But we still need to take things one week at a time.”

“It’s a lot different season than normal,” Flint added.

Workout with Tom Aungst

The full article can be found on Zildjian’s web site. For direct access to this article,  please click here.

We want to thank Zildjian for putting together this great WORKOUT episode featuring Tom Aungst, who runs through some exercises he does with the Dartmouth HS Drumline.

Not only does it show an awesome video, but it comes with a free PDF download of all the exercises the Dartmouth drumline does.

    

TOM AUNGST is the Director of Percussion at Dartmouth Public Schools in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. His job includes teaching percussion students at all levels of the program, from the beginners starting in 5th grade, to the middle and high school students. Mr. Aungst has been in the Dartmouth school system for the past 24 years. Under Tom’s direction, Dartmouth has participated in the WGI indoor percussion activity since 1998, capturing five World Class Percussion Championships (1998, 1999, 2008, 2009, 2014) and has consistently placed in the top three.

Mr. Aungst has also been involved in the drum corps activity for over 36 years. Tom has recently returned to The Cadets Drum & Bugle Corps as the Caption Head and Arranger for the 2017 season. He was formerly the Caption Head for Carolina Crown in 2015 and 2016. Mr. Aungst got his start in drum corps in the late 70’s by marching with the Reading Buccaneer’s all-age corps, winning two DCA World Championships in 1979 and 1980. In 1981 Tom became involved with The Cadets, first as a member from 1981-1984, then as the Percussion Arranger and Caption Head through 2008 and later returning as a consultant in 2013. While with the corps, Tom was involved with capturing nine championships and seven percussion awards. Mr. Aungst has always remained actively involved in the drum corps activity, recently writing for the Cadets2 corps in 2013, and working with various groups like the Blue Stars, Pacific Crest, Hawthorne Caballeros, and the Connecticut Hurricanes. Tom is a member of The Cadets, Drum Corps International and the WGI Halls of Fame.

Mr. Aungst is a graduate of West Chester University, where he received his Bachelor’s in Music Education and also has a Master’s in Jazz Performance from Rutgers University. Tom is a Vic Firth, Yamaha, Zildjian and Remo artist. He is also a proud father to Alan Aungst and Noah Aungst.

Color guard, band march on with in-person practices

This article appeared in the Dartmouth Week on August 21st by Kate Robinson. To view the original article, please click here.

While most teenagers spent their summer at the beach or escaping quarantine outdoors, kids in Dartmouth High’s marching band and color guard cut their breaks short to get back to practice via Zoom, Google classroom, and — in the past couple of weeks — in person.

On Aug. 20, nearly 50 students broken into groups by instrument could be found playing for three hours in a parking lot behind the high school. The wind instruments practiced in the afternoon, and the percussion and color guard practiced separately in the evening.

Students remain socially distant — six feet apart for regular instruments, and thirteen feet for wind instruments — and masks are required for all except those who need their breath to play.

This is the second week of in-person practice since the pandemic started — but some have been working virtually almost since school let out last March.

“I let them off for two weeks,” said percussion director Tom Aungst with a laugh. “These are really good kids.”

“It’s just nice to be back, because this is what the kids enjoy,” he said. “To get out here and be social, and play and drum and feel the energy, it’s really cool. Even for me.”

Aungst noted that every single one of his students attended his classes since March 13. “I had 100% attendance,” he said. “Indoor percussion competes at world championships — so they understand what it takes.”

“I was really impressed with their dedication and commitment,” he added. “I’m lucky.”

This year is also unusual because new band director Ian Flint took over from longtime director Bill Kingsland this spring.

Flint taught in Dartmouth for nine years and came back to take on the position after five years away. And with four national championships to the school’s name, he said, “We don’t want to lose momentum.”

“Some of the seniors here, I had five years ago,” he said, smiling under his mask. “The program’s evolved even in the five years I’ve been gone…It just keeps getting better.”

As for starting the job during a pandemic, he said, “It was a lot of planning.” But he credits his staff and the kids for pulling off the in-person practices.

“The kids, from day one, they took it super seriously,” he said. “They know if they don’t follow the guidelines, they’re not able to do this.”

“And they love this,” he added. “They take a lot of pride in it.”

As for the teachers, Flint noted, “We were so excited to teach again!”

“We’re lost without being in front of students and teaching them music,” he added. “This is our passion.”

Flint said that with the pandemic, this year will look a lot different. He’s already had to cut the number of hours kids can rehearse each day from nine hours to just three.

“We’ve reduced our rehearsal time to a third of what we would normally do,” he said, adding that due to the changes, they had to cut the show to half its normal runtime.

There will also be no in-person competitions. Instead, bands across the country will compose videos of their performances to send in to a virtual competition.

“We’ll film the show at the stadium, then submit it to the adjudicators,” Flint said. “It’s a little different.”

Senior Sergio Sao Marcos, who has played trombone in the marching band for four years, said that practices are going well.

“It’s just fun,” he said. “I like playing with friends.”

As for giving up part of his summer for the band, he added with a grin, “I don’t mind the heat.” 

The color guard has also started in-person practices in a field behind the school. Director Addison Kaeterle said that the kids are “just excited to be out of the house.”

He noted they also tried out a virtual platform over the summer, with students given level-based assignments to complete and submit videos for feedback, as well as virtual live practices and a weekly zoom catch-up.

“It was very different. I’ve never done such a thing before,” he laughed. “A lot of the kids actually came back a lot stronger with their skillset, because a lot of them took advantage of it.”

Color guard co-captains Ryley Thatcher and Mia Paynton said that everyone is happy to be back. 

“We’ve been in our houses since March now, so it’s good to be back and doing something,” said Paynton. As for the virtual experience, she said, “It’s weird when you’re still practicing but you’re not with everyone you’re used to being around.”

“I love that it feels like a family,” said Thatcher.

Dartmouth High marching band readies for next season despite coronavirus

This article appeared in the May 10 edition of the Standard Times. To view the original article, please click here.

The award-winning Dartmouth High School marching band may be left temporarily silenced due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but its interest among students is not wavering.

With just under 120 students in the program, the town’s director of music and the high school’s band director William Kingsland says while student interest in the band and musical courses remains steady, the upcoming band season is uncertain.

“Obviously, school will not be back in session for the end of the year, so as much course requests as we have and with all the programs looking like we have good signups for the following year in the fall, all of it remains a little uncertain right now. The band does an ‘x’ amount of stuff during the summer and all of that is kind of contingent on the governor’s plans and however this plays out. As much as we’re trying to plan, we really don’t know exactly what dates we’re going to be able to get back to doing what we would do. And even if we do, are we going to be able to perform in large venues with lots of people? So, there’s a lot of unknowns right now,” Kingsland said.

With his retirement planned for the end of the fiscal year, Kingsland also expressed dissatisfaction with leaving so many unanswered questions to his current staff and newly hired band director Ian Flint. He said the challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent shutdowns include the loss of in-person, group practices meant to fine-tune the band’s marching and coordination during events, with over 100 individual moves planned for an average performance.

“It’s kind of frustrating for me because I’m leaving my current staff and the new director of music with more loose ends than I expected,” said Kingsland.

“Interestingly, the kids are still really great and the program looks good for next fall. But, the experience we can offer right now really isn’t what it would be. A lot of being in a band or a string orchestra or a chorus has to do with the interaction that students have with each other and the director and being able to do things together.”

 

Like all Dartmouth High School students, those involved with the band are continuing musical instrument classes online via Zoom, something Kingsland and Assistant Band and Percussion Director Tom Aungst say is helpful in allowing students to learn their instruments individually, but is ultimately ineffective in practicing as an entire band, chorus or orchestra.

Aungst, also a musical instrument teacher at DHS, says for both students and staff alike, it’s about moving forward and planning for the future, despite the restrictions currently in place due to COVID-19.

“We’re just trying to figure out a way to keep things moving for the kids and keep the interest there. We’ve been doing videos, so they’ll post videos of themselves playing. That’s something as far as hearing what they are doing, but as far as the movement, we have to get out there and do it,” Aungst said.

“This weekend we have a Zoom meeting discussing the marching band and we’re going to start to design the show. I think what we’re thinking is, ‘We’re moving ahead.’ I know its day-by-day as far as what the steps (to reopening) are, but we’re going ahead like we’re going to do this.”

Kingsland said that its not just the band’s overall performance that’s effected by the COVID-19 shutdowns. He explained that he’s noticed the emotional toll social distancing has taken on students, particularly those who look at the band and other performance classes as a way to connect with other students.

“I have a few students who are struggling just being at home and by themselves, and you can see it when you talk to them on Zoom, some kids just hardly want to get out of bed. It’s sad and its something the performance classes at the high school have always provided – they always had that connection for the kids to be part of something and be good at something, and that’s really important,” he said.

With Thursday’s news of this year’s Feast of the Blessed Sacrament being cancelled in New Bedford, the marching band’s season kickoff event follows suit. Typically viewed as the first performance that features the entire band – including new freshman students – the cancellation further delays the band’s progress in performing as a unit.

“I think we’re just going to have to be creative in how we do it. It’ll be different for us, but it’s where we’re at and we’re just going to have to pick up the pieces and move on in a positive way,” Aungst said.

Dartmouth band wins 4th consecutive national championship

This article originally appeared in the November 11, 2019 edition of the Standard Times. To read the original article, please click here. 

It was a perfect night.

The Dartmouth High School Marching Band won its fourth consecutive national championships in the U.S. Band Association’s Open Group V competition Saturday night at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

They tied for the highest score ever recorded by any band in the circuit with a score of 98.575, set in 2008.

And they did it at their band director, Bill Kingsland’s, final show as he is retiring in June.

Russ Benoit, president of Dartmouth School Music Association, the band’s support group, was at the championships and said there were some anxious moments until the final scores were read. They knew Dartmouth did well. They didn’t know how well.

Southington, Ct., High School came in second with a score of 95.375; followed by Passaic, N.J., High School, 95.175; and Trumbull, Ct., High School, 95.150, according to the Youth Education in the Arts website.

“When they announced the second place winners, we knew the kids had won,” Benoit said. “When they said, 98 (DHS’s final score of 98.575), we were completely blown away with how high the score was.”

Benoit’s son Jacob, an eighth grader, is in band’s drum line. His daughter was in the band and is now going to college.

“It’s such an honor to see it. We know how hard they work,” he said. “It was such a wonderful evening.”

Dartmouth parents poured out of the stands and hugged and celebrated with their children, he said. Later, they carried the huge trophy to bus.

“It was truly an amazing sight,” he said.

The fact that it was Kingsland’s last show was on on everyone’s mind, Benoit said. “They wanted to win it for ‘BK.’ (Kingsland’s nickname). They wanted to do it for him,” Benoit said.

“They wanted to show him how much love and respect they have for him by putting on the best show possible.”

The name of this year’s show was “The Witching Hour,” he said.

The band and color guard enjoyed some rest and relaxation Sunday and received a hero’s welcome with an escort by the police and fire departments with sirens blaring from Interstate 195 where they met the buses to Dartmouth High School.

On Monday, they marched in New Bedford’s Veterans Day Parade.

“That will be the last one for me,” Kingsland said of the U.S. Bands competition when he spoke with a reporter outside New Bedford’s main library following Monday’s parade. “It was good, really good. Good for the kids, good for the town.”

The band had to fight through the cold Saturday night on the field of MetLife Stadium and remain focused on their music and routines, he said. He offered special thanks to Tom Aungst, Mike Rayner, Tyler Kingsland, his son, and Addison Kaeterle, for their help this year.