Tenafly Marching Band – Taking the State Championship by Storm


Tenafly Marching Band after winning States.

Hongbi Cho and Andrea Koo

On Saturday, October 29th, the Tenafly Tiger Marching Band, under the direction of Mr. Michael Jacobetz, competed against top bands in their class throughout the state at the USBands State Championships, making school history by taking home First Place and cementing themselves as this year’s Division IIIA New Jersey State Champions.

The band’s show, titled “Breaking News,” illustrates an oncoming snowstorm as students anxiously wait to know if school will be closed for a snow day. The drill, or the steps and positions that make up the marching band show, contained 75 drill sets, almost double the number of sets that the band had the year before. Accompanying the drills were four scenes of music, arranged by Aaron Alcine, including music by Debussy, Kanye West, Handel, and Alcine’s own compositions. The moods of each scene had stark contrasts, with anticipation blanketing scenes one and two, frivolous bliss interlacing scene three, and triumph imbuing scene four as a snow day is confirmed. The change in ambience earned the band many points, as some judges marveled at the band’s duality and ability to switch styles. The band also incorporated various choreographies and props, such as cotton snowballs, prop frames, and a news desk with devices for the news reporters. Across the four competitions of the 2022 season, the band won captions awards of best music, best percussion, best visual effect, and best overall effect. With all this in mind, how much work goes on behind the scenes?

Tenafly Marching Band at Metlife Stadium.

For the marching band, the season begins with mini camps in July and mandatory band camp rehearsals from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the last two weeks of August. During the rehearsals, the band worked on basics, including positions, marching, and the music. As the school year started, the band met semiweekly from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., ending the week off with rehearsals, football games, and/or competitions. These rehearsals included warmups, featuring breathing exercises and tuning, followed by the learning and repeating of drill sets, scenes, andmusic. With determination and grit, the band practiced doggedly through varying weather conditions to ensure their performance’s perfection. The amount of time that the students and staff put in each week was what enabled the band to achieve excellence.

This year, the marching band was comprised of 67 members: there were three actors; ten color guard members including captains Amy Jung (’23) and Joanna Pak (’23); seven battery percussionists; five front ensemble percussionists; and 40 winds with drum majors Madison Lee (’23) and Jamie Liu (’23). “Marching band is place founded on teamwork and dedication,” Lee said. Contrastingly, as the marching band has military roots, the hierarchy remains, with orders and instructions going from drum majors to section leaders to members. Accordingly, the upperclassmen and the leadership team were responsible for setting examples. As veterans, they were both expected and required to teach and help the incoming freshmen who had to start by learning how to march. The newcomers, on the other hand, had the responsibility of grasping a considerable amount of new information while quickly assimilating into the band. Through these processes, the band’s cooperative and emotional experience helped relationships form. They experienced various highs and lows in terms of both performances and outdoor temperature, as the band rehearsed in weathers surpassing 90 degrees Fahrenheit with a scorching sun directly above them, to rain and frigid temperatures falling below zero. Liu recalled that her favorite memory of marching band was “when everyone was huddled together during water breaks because of how cold the temperature was.” The hardships and victories the group experienced together helped cement a strong relationship, allowing the band to be a cohesive and supportive society. “The best part about marching band is the people you meet and the community that you help to build,” says Liu.

Celebration in the THS library.

Before the Tenafly Marching band was under Michael Jacobetz’s direction, it had an entirely different culture. “When I started here, the band didn’t rehearse very much. I’ve increased the rehearsal time a lot, I’ve added a lot of staff and new equipment that we didn’t have in the past,” Jacobetz said. With the new system, equipment, and support, the marching band was able to improve exponentially. Alongside Jacobetz are staff members Minesh Shah, Jill Rothstein, George Mattis, Kiera Shepherd, Aaron Alcine, Marlyn Alcine, John Fugaban, and many band parents who follow the band to their competitions with support and sustenance. As November marked the end of the 2022 marching band season, Jacobetz and the design team started planning for next year’s show. “We’re in the stages of deciding what we’re going to do next year,” Jacobetz said. “That process really takes a few months for us to choose the music and decide on what the theme of the show is.”

The best part about marching band is the people you meet and the community that you help to build.

— Jamie Liu ('23)

Even with all their accomplishments, the band continues to work hard. “My primary goal is always the same; to work together really well as a team, to be excellent and continue to improve,” Jacobetz said with a smile. The 2022 Marching Tigers have truly raised the bar higher than ever before, marking their place in Tenafly history, and setting soaring expectations and hopes for the next year. “This season was quite a snowstorm itself, but because of their hard work, determination, grit, and dedication, the students of the Tiger Band opened doors to new opportunities and levels of performance for next season,” Fugaban said. “We are so proud of their accomplishments.”

Special thanks to this year’s graduating seniors: Jamie Liu, Madison Lee, Amy Jung, Joanna Pak, Nuree Han, Ravi Kingan, Zachary Kulisek, Gerard Santosh, Esther Shin, Yoonsun Yoo, and Jordan Zukoff.

Don’t forget to support your marching band next season at football games, pep rallies, and competitions. Check out the marching band’s State Championship-winning performance here!