Music, Under Friday Night Lights

On Friday nights during the time that late summer transforms into early fall, when the air is crisp and the nights come faster, Eagle Stadium is filled by the roar of the crowd that has gathered to take in some football. But at half time, the sounds of victory and defeat are exchanged for something much more melodious: the marching band. The group, composed of twenty nine wind players, nine marching percussionists, and five pit percussionists, along with eight members of the Color Guard, takes to the field during home games to showcase its repertoire and fancy footwork.


This season, the band is performing Beatlemania, a three song tribute to the Beatles that includes the popular tracks Can’t Buy Me Love, Magical Mystery Tour, and Something. The process of going from first rehearsal to full performance requires, as one can guess, a lot of practice. It begins at band camp, which is not quite what the movies make it out to be. “Band camp is when we pretty much evaluate what we will have for the coming year,” said Bri Busch (’13), a member of the flute section.  “At this point, we are teaching the new members the fundamentals of marching and we start learning the music.” Once the school year begins, band members receive their marching orders: a packet of charts describing the precise positioning and movement required to make their performances come alive.

Once the members know where to go, they move on to the tough part: practicing drills while playing. “It’s tricky because it takes a lot of thinking and coordination to play the music from memory, use the proper breath support to make a good sound, be musical, and know exactly what size step you need to take to get from point A to point B,” said Busch. 

These elements of coordination cause “bandies” to adamantly argue that their art is also a sport. After all, holding a tuba or flute correctly for long periods of time requires strength, as does marching across the field with speed, or “jazz running.”

As a major element of American high school culture, it was inevitable the marching band be reduced to a stereotype in movies and television. But current members are pushing back against perception. “In the movies, it does not show all of the hard work and dedication [needed] to really put together a decent show,” said Dominick Agazzi (’14), a tuba player. The band holds three two-hour practice sessions each week in order to prepare for its shows.

During half time, the band is accentuated by the Color Guard, composed of eight female students who twirl flags in formation. “We bedazzle the marching band; we’re the pomp to their circumstance,” noted Elizabeth Burgess (’13), one of the captains for the Guard.

In the future, according to Drum Major Courtney Aceto (’13), the marching band hopes to expand its reach. “We would like to do a tournament of bands,” she explains enthusiastically. That day may be off in the horizon, but for now, students can catch the pomp, circumstance, and Beatlemania at halftime.