New Band Director Marches Pali High to Victory

By JENNIKA INGRAM | Reporter 

With new Marching Band Director Tyler Farrell at the helm, Palisades Charter High School finishes the semester by reaching the championships and exceeding the band’s placement last year.

“I’m elated,” said Farrell, who has just one season as the school’s band director under his belt.

On November 2, the Pali High Marching Band attended Los Altos Field Tournament where they received the Sweepstakes Award—meaning they scored the highest out of all of the groups there that day. It was one of the band’s last shows when they were qualifying for the championships.

“It is a kind of circuit competition,” Farrell told the Palisadian-Post. 

From early October to the first two weekends of November, the band goes through a competition that assesses performance and entertainment skills.

The band received three second place and one first place award in their division this year, plus a few best overall performance awards. The band came in second place in Class 2A at the Warren High School Field Tournament, West Ranch High School Field Tournament and the Moorpark Battle of the Bands.

Farrell shared that the biggest goal of the year was to reach the championships, which the band achieved when they competed in the Southern California Band and Orchestra Association 2A Championships, placing eighth at Warren High School on November 16.

“It was very exciting as they met and surpassed their expectations,” Farrell said.

The marching band competes with 24 other schools from Southern California throughout the year. Last year, the band placed ninth.

Only 12 schools qualify for the championship, “so this is an honor,” shared Shannon Paresa, band parent volunteer.

This year’s new routine, “Effigy,” was a darker, more aggressive piece than what students at Pali High traditionally perform, “which are typically upbeat, happier, lighter themes, and a lot of classical music,” Farrell said. “And this year was a bit of a 180. It’s also a little more angular; everything is pointed, spooky and insistent.”

The band performed the first movement of Michael Kamen’s “The New Moon in the Old Moon’s Arms” and “No One Mourns the Wicked,” the overture from “Wicked.”

Farrell said there’s a unique sense of dedication from the students at Pali High, which makes it a fun and rewarding place to teach.

“It’s the kids that do the work,” he added.

Arwen Hernandez, former band leader for eight years until 2016, built the program from the ground up and instilled a lot of the traditions of success and work ethic, while building the marching band culture we have today, Farrell explained to the Post.

“We always strive to teach our kids professionalism,” Farrell said. “My job is to teach them how to be a decent human being through music. They could leave here and not have learned a single thing about music, but if they’ve learned about life and how to be a person, then I’m happy.”

Farrell has a degree in musical education from UCLA and worked at the Herb Alpert School of Music.  He was the former director of bands at Garner Magnet High School in North Carolina and a percussion instructor.

Paresa shared that her son decided to join the marching band, and it has been a wonderful experience for him.

“He thoroughly enjoyed it and made great friends,” she said. “No one is benched in marching band/colorguard. Every member participates and is equally important. There is no junior varsity, so everyone is held up to the same standard from freshmen to seniors. They work hard and practice a lot—nine hours a week.”

Jeremy Miller, their longtime percussion director, works with the drumline and is at all the marching rehearsals. In addition, there are two other percussion instructors, Mike Schlotter, who works with the front ensemble, and Melony Robinson-Williams. Allison Wyant is the colorguard director.

This is Farrell’s first year teaching at Pali High after taking over from Alex Dale, who led the band from 2016-19.

“It’s a super fun job,”  Farrell concluded.