The Baker’s Dozen Challenge

13 Band Members Play a Collegiate Level Solo in the Marching Band Show


Jackie Chang, Web Editor

Three months ago, at the start of the marching band season, 13 woodwind players were chosen to play a fast and challenging solo feature together. The music zips through the listener’s ears as it is paced at 164 beats per minute (bpm). Band directors Paul Bessetti and Julia Janda explained how tough it is to perform this piece.

“I would say it’s collegiate [level] at the tempo [the soloists] have to play it,” Janda said,

Bessetti expressed the level of difficulty while throwing in a compliment to his students.

“I’ll put stuff in a marching show that I know is darn near impossible for any high school [student] to do, and then I just say ‘do it— and you all rise to the occasion.” Bessetti said, 

The woodwind players that have accepted the challenge of this feature are juniors Aubree Isaacs and Henry Monahan, seniors Rohit Menon, Joaquin Toro, and Van Zebley on saxophone; sophomore Hari Rangaraj and senior Barak Snir on clarinet; sophomores Claire Ahlrichs, Jackie Chang, Audrey Fullerton, Scarlett Pfister, junior Lindsay Cho, and senior Salem Ponnuru on flute. These thirteen soloists have jokingly named themselves ‘The Bakers Dozen.’ This intense solo used to be stressful, however, these musicians have overcome their struggles.

“It’s [now] a lot easier than when we first started and I feel pretty comfortable,” Ahlrichs said,

It was not an easy process feeling untroubled with the solo, however. Ms. Janda who mainly oversaw the creation of the feature described it as a long and grueling process and Snir agreed.

“We practiced [repetitively] and slowly brought it up to speed [till] it sounded pretty good.” Snir said, 

Lots of work went into the solo and at certain group rehearsals.

“We practiced with Mr. Bessetti and his drum set [where we learned to] feel the beat and ride the beat.” Monahan said,

Through the repetitive practice of playing together, mastering the technical fast fingerings, and finding the musicality in this crazy feature, the soloists have each learned lessons from this challenge.

“If you go at something long enough, you will [become] good at it,” Fullerton said. “It’s funny to think about how I was freaking out about playing it at 80 [bpm a while back].”

Echoing thoughts from the group, Menon emphasized that through the experience of being part of this feature, more came out of it than just being able to play fast notes.

“I’ve figured out that I can play collaboratively with a group effectively [and I learned] how to work together, struggle, [and grow] as a team.”