The sky is clear, the sun is shining and the bleachers are full at the high school football stadium. Ninety teenagers line the field dressed in full uniform with everything from purple and white jackets to feathered plumes. They march the field creating various formations and play energy packed music.
However, this performance isn’t just about the show; what you don’t see on the field is the bond between these teens that glues the show together and makes marching band memorable.
The South Marching Band is not only a respected band that has been awarded at several competitions and festivals, but it is a group where students create friendships and learn life lessons.
Maleigha Michael, sophomore, said, “I love bonding with everyone. You get to play music with people that share the same passion for it.”
Students are allowed to join band starting in seventh grade. They learn the basics of music and move on to progressively more difficult things each year. Beginning freshman year, students are allowed to audition for a selective competitive marching band.
Alec Higgins, one of the few freshman selected to participate in competitive marching this year, said, “Marching band is a lot of work, but it’s fun! We get to do a lot and there’s a lot of people that I’m meeting that I don’t think I would’ve without band.”
The band’s extensive rehearsal schedule includes two weeks of marching camp in the summer, practice during class every other day and Tuesday night rehearsals each week from August through October. This offers plenty of time for bonding and working on their show, which is entitled “Bent” this year.
“[Rehearsals] kind of force you to communicate with the people in your section,” said Michael. “But it’s nice because we all mostly get along really well and it makes us closer in and outside of band.”
Performances of the marching show occur during halftime of home Panther football games.
“After all the hard work, it finally pays off because you get to perform it really well with all your band family next to you. It’s just really awesome,” said Juliana Hsu, senior.
Part of the marching season includes traveling to competitions in the area to perform the band’s halftime show. Competitions include local festivals, such as the Missouri Western and Blue Springs Marching Festivals, as well as more distant ones like the Bands of America Marching Championships in St. Louis, Mo.
“There was a tradition my freshman year where we sang the show on the bus ride on the way to [Bands of America] and sophomore year we did a lip dub to ‘Call Me Maybe’. It’s a really good bonding experience with your fellow band mates,” said Hsu.
The band has several other traditions that keep band members close.
“Each year we have a dinner at our section leader’s house before the first Tuesday night rehearsal…” said Michael. “Drumline camp almost feels like a tradition too. You just miss so much bonding time when you don’t go, even though it’s only three days long.”
Not only does the South Marching band have fun traditions, but it teaches students valuable lessons that can be applied in all areas of life.
Hsu said, “Being in band you learn how to manage your time. You learn discipline and responsibility… If one person messes up, it affects the entire band so you really do learn accountability. I think that’s the biggest thing people take from it. We have a lot of teamwork and we’re all really supportive of each other. Just being there for each other I think is what everyone remembers the most.”
Next time you see a halftime show or marching competition, take a look and try to see a little deeper than the performance.