The Saucedo effect

The Spartan Regiment welcomed Richard Saucedo to campus to help improve the FHC band programs


The Spartan Regiment performances at the Homecoming Parade. The band’s season ended with a competition at Francis Howell at the end of October.

The band room was more excited than usual with the arrival of Richard Saucedo, a retired band director and now Band of America judge and clinician. For senior Rachel Stepanek, a section leader in the marching band and member of Wind Ensemble, the experience was a remarkable one.

“Mr. [Richard] Saucedo is just huge in the band world. Carmel (Ind.) High School was his high school; he built their band program and directed all of it. It is just amazing what he done over there, ” Stepanek said. “We’ve been trying to get him to come here for three years. It’s just absolutely incredible.”

For Stepanek, Mr. Saucedo was surprising to work with because, although his great credentials, Mr. Saucedo was willing to help and jumped right on board with what the band was working on.

“What surprised me the most was how willing he was to come right in and start working with us. He wasn’t standing there in the corner with a frown on his face and like criticising everything. He got up there. He wasn’t standing up there telling us what’s right and mostly what’s wrong,” Stepanek said.

The first day of practice, the marching band did not get the chance to show Saucedo the actual show, but that did not stop them from practicing. They began in the gym with visual basics like forward march and backway march and then the wind instruments went into the band room to practicing the music. According to Stepanek, Saucedo’s focus on the fundamentals like the first breath and single tones.

“Saucedo is very heavy on the fundamentals because that is the base of any band. You start with the fundamentals and you build your way up,” Stepanek said. “He worked with us for a good 15-20 minutes on just the first breathe because the first breathe determines so much. If it shallow and toward the chest then your sound will be all sharp, not sharp as in tuning but hard and brash. If its shallow like that, it’s going to be unsupported. He worked with us on breathing deep, keeping the throat not closed off. We worked really hard on the fundamentals.”

For sophomore Laurel Ammond, Saucedo helped more than just the literal sound of the band. He boosted the confidence and attitude of the band.

“He changed our attitude and what we’re doing. He made us feel like we were doing something right every single time we were playing, there were no mistakes, there were no accidents. Everything happened for a purpose. If there was a mistake, it was no big deal. He made us feel better about what we were playing. He made us sound a lot better,” Ammond said.

To Ammond, the visit showed in the band’s performance on the following Friday. Although they did not place in the competition, the band’s atmosphere was different.

“The performance went pretty well. Sure, we didn’t place well but the atmosphere was definitely more positive,” Ammond said.