BARSTOW - Tim McKean remembers Barstow's Langworthy Field well.

McKean performed at the field during the High Desert Field Show Tournament when he attended Hesperia High School. Saturday, 13 years later, McKean returned to Barstow for the 23rd Annual High Desert Field Show Tournament in a new role, as the Sultana High School band director.

"It's my second year as the director and it's the first time Sultana has come up for the tournament," McKean said. "I used to come here when I was in school so I brought the band up. It's the same thing. The shows have changed, but it's the same."

It's not hard to believe that the shows have changed. Sitting through the tournament an audience member could hear anything from Modest Mussorgsky's classical piece "Pictures at an Exhibition" to Michael Jackson's "Thriller".

Despite the range of music, most director's chose from existing pieces. However, Hesperia High School Band Director Shane Sherrodd went the unconventional route of writing the music for his band himself. His piece, titled "Paint by Numbers," is composed of several movements and does not contain pauses between parts like other bands. Sherrodd not only wrote the music, but also the drill for his band this year. He began the process when he wrote the drill last year.

"I wrote most the show mostly to address the different issues of my band," Sherrodd said. "I wanted the music to play to the strengths of my band. I wrote the drill last year and I learned from my mistakes. I think I got a better product out this year."

Sherrodd said he composed a lot of the music after he and his wife had developed the visual idea of "Paint by Numbers." Each member of Hesperia's band had secondary plumes, the feather on top of a marching hat, that were a different color. By the end of the drill every section of the band had changed to their secondary plumb, adding color to the show.

"As the sections come up front they go behind the backdrops and duck to change their plumes," Sherrodd said. "The goal is to do it quick. Then before you know it after you look away at another part of the show the section is a different color."

The Colton High School Marching Band took home $1,100 and the awards for high music, general effect, visual performance and people's choice.

The Barstow High School Aztec Marching Band performed their show, "Queen," in it's entirety for the first time on Saturday. They have been working on the show since their band camp in August, but audiences had only seen pieces of it during football game halftime shows until the tournament. Although the Aztecs didn't compete in the show the band was scored by the judges in order to give them a guide on what to work on.

Barstow will now get their first shot at a competition this Saturday when they travel to Las Vegas for the Sumerlin Band Spectacular.

"We did really well," Barstow band director Tim Garvin said. "We have some things to work on for our trip to Las Vegas, but I'm happy."

Contact the writer: (760) 256-4122 or

How do they do that?
BARSTOW - If you've ever seen people attempt to do the wave at a high school football game then you know how hard it is to get people synchronized.

Now imagine doing that while expecting everyone in the crowd to play an instrument.

That's what a band director faces at the start of every marching season. In most cases it's not students' ability to play an instrument that causes problems for a band director its marching. Sultana High School band director Tim McKean said most students have played music for several years, but they haven't marched a day in their life.

"Marching is the most difficult part because getting a large group of kids to match each other is a big feat," McKean said. "It can be compared to a ballet. It's something mostly dancers do."

One way directors help their students is by choosing music that has a strong rhythm that they can follow. This makes it easier for the musicians to stay on the right foot and in tempo while marching. McKean said directors often choose classical songs or rocks songs that have been arranged to square up the rhythm.

Hesperia band director Shane Sherrodd, who composed the music for his band himself, said swing, jazz and other similar styles of music are difficult for marching bands.

"I've tried to stay away from jazz shows," Sherrodd said. "You have to play the music just behind the beat, but keep your feet on beat. It causes problems."