“Band, horns in the air!” McLouth High School Marching Band Drum Major Jaren Blake, 17, shouted at McLouth’s Marching Band before performing and went on to win the inaugural Kansas Bandmasters Association Small Group Competition.
Brewster Higley’s “Home on the Range” was the centerpiece of McLouth’s performance, where they also performed pieces by classical composers Wolfgang Mozart, Johann Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven.
On Saturday, October 16, the Kansas Bandmaster’s Association hosted the first Small School Marching Band Championships hosted by Hutchinson Community College at Gowans Stadium. Ten small groups from Kansas competed in six categories; general effect, color guard, percussion, music, visuals and drum major excellence.
The marching bands are rated on a scale of 0 to 100, and the winning group, McLouth, scored 75.4, an âexcellentâ rating also rated â2â. The other groups competing were Caney Valley High School, Holton High School, Eudora High School, Rock Creek High School, Haven High School, Circle High School, Lyons High School, Goddard High School and Independence High School.
All these schools have been classified as 3A and 4A high schools with no more than 400 students.
The first competition since confinement
This competition was the first in two years for most groups who have faced each other on Saturday in two years due to the pandemic. The students were eager to compete again, said Lyon group manager Andrew Scherer.
Scherer organized a festival only for Lyon last year inviting a few local judges to rate his students since the pandemic canceled all fanfare competitions.
âAt the end of the walking season, I was so frustrated that everything was canceled, and our freshmen were not getting any real experience that they had no pay at all,â Scherer said, âputting all the work and not going to the state fair or trips or festivals. So I brought in judges from around and we had our own festival. “
Schere said he and his students were eagerly awaiting the review of their performance to learn more about the walk, the performance and what they could learn for the next year.
“The most important thing is to open their eyes to what other groups are doing well, to let them know that there is more than what is happening in our small town and to see what is possible,” said Scherer said.
Lyon Marching Band student leader Jared Smith, 16, was eagerly awaiting the learning opportunity for the Marching Band’s subclasses since they hadn’t had the chance last year.
âSome sophomores don’t know what the marching band competitions look like,â Smith said. âThey couldn’t do much last year.
A new learning experience
Haven High School group principal Joseph Richey said his students were excited to play but a little nervous since last season’s adjustment.
âThese kids haven’t really been able to do a performance in two years; this is our first real performance, so the sheer opportunity of what we can do is exciting for them,â Richey said.
The Haven High School Marching Band practiced in the parking lot on the west side of Gowans Stadium. Before marching to be the first group to compete on Saturday, they cheered loudly, punching each other and high fives before pulling into two lines to walk towards the competition field.
Hutchinson Community College Marching Band Director Heather Gehring planned the event with Kansas Bandmasters Association President Dennis Kerr of Conway Springs High School to give high school bands a better learning experience.
âI am very excited to see what they can offer and what they are able to do despite the fact that most of them are smaller than other schools,â Gehring said. “(The bands) give as much as they can with sound. The bands have structured their shows to be closer to the audience, and they’ve generally adapted their performances to their size.”
McLouth’s winning marching band achieved remarkable results in terms of effects and music, while runner-up Goddard achieved significant results in terms of color keeping and visual performance. Third place, Independence, received the highest score in the percussion category.
- McLouth High School
- Goddard High School
- Independence High School
- LycÃ©e de Lyon
- Circle High School
- Haven High School
- Rock Creek High School
- Eudora High School
- Holton High School
- Caney Valley High School