The Editor: Support your local marching band

by Jo Anne Embleton
Troup Tiger Band

Courtesy photo Troup Tiger Band Courtesy photo

Recently, a Facebook memory from a few years ago popped up on my page, about what a happy surprise it was to hear one of the area high school marching bands break into the Bruce Channel song, “Hey, Baby.”

It brought back a flood of memories of my own high school band days, when I’d look forward to the beginning of a new marching season when the new school year started. I remembered being impatient to be old enough to join of the Mighty Pirate Band, thrilling crowds at football games and pep rallies with our rendition of “Al’s Place” and “Heaven,” along with “Jalisco,” our official piece for both inspiring crowds and celebrating Pirate success on the field.

As a band geek of old, I look forward to mid-summer each year, knowing that all across the country, high school marching bands begin preparing to learn and memorize music, show routines and how to harness a sound and style that creates a tower of power that not only provides the sound track at football games, parades and pep rallies, but allow them to shine at UIL Marching Contest, where the fiercest competitors they face are themselves.

Like athletes, members of a school marching band train hard and long to execute their drills perfectly as they produce flawless sound. Like athletes, they want that prize that is rewarded from their hard work.

Joshua Elmore is director of Alto’s 42-member marching band, which consists of students from grades 7-12. While they are a show style marching band that does not compete in fall UIL Marching Contest, the Alto Mean Sting Marching Machine easily represents the kind of commitment a marching band gives to hone its performance on the field.

“There is a tremendous amount of effort and hard work that goes into putting together shows and performances,” Elmore said, describing the month-long summer band camp that runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, “full of conditioning, learning field commands, leadership training, and music learning.”

During the school year, the band practices 4-6:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, in addition to scheduled band class, continually refines its show, adding a number here, a new routine there, to debut at the next game or two.

“The students are extremely hard-working and will often learn a new show within 3 days and execute it well at the football game that following Friday,” Elmore said. “Hence why we are also nicknamed ‘The hardest working band in East Texas!”

While their schedules and styles may vary by band, there’s no doubt their members are equally committed to achieving the perfect performance that will be replicated during marching contest.

I challenge our readers to show their hometown marching band the pride and support we have for them by attending an upcoming contest this month

“It is oftentimes such a sheer joy to see students reacting to their teachers, admin, fellow students or community leaders cheering them on,” Elmore said. “No one knows how much it really affects the kids when they are there. I feel like it is so important for people to be present at not only football games and marching contests, but every sport. You never know if a child has a parent or someone who will be able to come out and support them and cheer them on, especially while they are doing something productive.

“So, to know that they can have someone to count on and to let them know that they’re doing a great job, means the world to them,” he added.

A Pre UIL contest will be held Saturday, Oct. 7, at Carthage High School, while this year’s Oct. 14 UIL marching contest (also a Saturday) is at SFA University in Nacogdoches. The State Military Marching Contest is slated for Tuesday, Oct. 24 at Baylor University.

Area bands will participate in the Nacogdoches competition at the following times on Saturday, Oct. 14: Troup Tiger Band, 3:30 p.m.; Jacksonville Fightin’ Indian Band, 5:15 p.m.; Rusk Eagle Band, 6:30 p.m. However, consult your local band to confirm marching time, as performance times can change at the last minute!