Rachel Roday has never been a student in music teacher Jessica Castaneda’s class, but the teenager can’t stop saying nice things about the Huntington Blue Devil marching band director.
The pressure to come as close to perfection as possible didn’t overwhelm the Huntington High School Blue Devil marching band at last Sunday’s New York State Field Band Conference Championships at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. Huntington showed why it has long been considered one of the premier bands in the state by turning in a dazzling performance to capture third place.
The competition is expected to be challenging at the New York State Field Band Conference’s 42nd annual championships at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, but the Blue Devil band is ready to shine.
The Huntington Blue Devil marching band has been perfect this fall, winning all three New York State Field Band Conference competitions it has entered and impressing judges and crowds all along the way.
With summer rehearsals and a week-long camp successfully wrapped up, the Huntington High School Blue Devil marching band is ready for what it hopes will be a very special fall season.
The Huntington High School Blue Devil marching band is an entrenched institution, with thousands of alumni who have been counted among its ranks over the years. The band has survived changes in its leadership, the normal evolution of its membership and new philosophies and inspirations as the times have dictated. The original bands consisted of several dozen students, a far cry from today’s nearly 150 student strong organization.
The band was organized in 1934 by Ohio native and Oberlin College music teacher James Cloyd Doty. It was open to boys and girls in all four classes, according to the 1936 edition of The Huntingtonian, the high school yearbook. “Although newly organized, this group has worked very hard and with the cooperation of the student body, the band members have received blue and white uniforms. They gave a new feeling of school spirit to all of the occasions at which they appeared this year.”
The 1936 yearbook is the first to picture the marching band dressed in traditional uniforms. The book notes the uniforms were the product of fellow students, most likely referring to a campaign by the General Organization to raise funds for their purchase or an outright grant of monies.
The first director was high school music teacher James C. Doty, who attended Oberlin College in Ohio. The 1936 drum major was Edwin Riggs. He is the first student any yearbook assigned to that prestigious role.
The band has grown over the years to play a major role in the life of the district. Following its humble origins, in later years the marching band would participate in local and national level parades and events, appear on the field at Yankee Stadium, march in the Rose Bowl parade on television and win the state championship in its division. It has garnered a lengthy list of honors far too numerous to note in a short profile
Jessica Castaneda assumed the position of Huntington Blue Devil marching band director in 2016. She served as the band’s co-director the previous year.
A graduate of Middletown High School in New York, Ms. Castaneda obtained an undergraduate degree in music education with a performance certificate in clarinet at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music. She earned a master’s degree in clarinet performance at the University of Oklahoma, where she served as a graduate teaching assistant.
Ms. Castaneda joined the Huntington School District’s music department faculty in 2011. She currently teaches fourth grade band at Southdown and Jefferson primary schools and general classroom music at Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School.
Prior to becoming co-director of the Blue Devil marching band in 2015, Ms. Castaneda was the woodwind tech for four seasons.
This course satisfies the one credit in Music required for graduation. The Band program is a comprehensive program, which includes marching and concert band training and performances. Students may elect to be in the Competitive Marching Band or the Noncompetitive Marching Band. The non-competitive members will be required to perform as a pep band for all home football games including playoffs. These are the performance requirements for the Non-Competitive Marching program.
Students who wish to participate in the Competitive Marching Band will prepare a field show, which is performed at a variety of competitions on Long Island and in the northeast region throughout the fall. Competitive Marching Band members are required to attend two evening rehearsals per week as well as Saturday and Sunday practices or performances during the first quarter. Competitive Marching Band students receive a weighted grade for this additional work.
All Band students audition for seating in two concert bands which become the main program activity after the fall marching season. The Junior Band which consists of members in 9th and 10th grade will perform levels IV-V music. The Senior Band which consists of members in 11th and 12th grade will perform levels V-VI music. The Concert Bands will perform at several school concerts and special functions throughout the year.
The Blue Devil Marching Band has earned national acclaim as one of the finest competitive bands on Long Island. To date, the band has multiple first place awards in the NY State field band competitions. In 2004, the Band won first place in the New York State Field Band Conference Competition, Division LS3 and 2nd Place in the New York City Columbus Day Parade. In 2002, the Band won first place in the USSBA Mid Atlantic Marching Band Championship. The Blue Devil Band has also performed in the Tournament of Roses Parade, the Fiesta Bowl Parade, the Miss America Parade, and at Yankee Stadium. In 1997, they performed in the Disney Hercules Parade in New York City and in 1998, participated in a Disney commercial for the opening of the Animal Kingdom.
REQUIREMENTS:All members of the Band course are required to participate in either Competitive or Non-Competitive Marching Band and perform in the performances listed above. You may not participate in concert band only. All students have a community service marching commitment. Exact 2015-16 rehearsal dates for all new band members as well as summer Band Camp dates and times for Competitive program will be mailed to all grade 8 - 11 band students when available.
IMPORTANT: Students who do not participate in the Summer Band Camp are not eligible for the Competitive Band. For questions about rehearsal and performance requirements, please contact Mr. Giachetti or Mr. Stellato at 673-2053.
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