WCHS Marching Band

2022+WCHS+Marching+Band+

Michael Collins

2022 WCHS Marching Band

*Tick*… *tick… *tick*…

Deafening silence blankets the crowd, and only the wispy wind fills the atmosphere. The stadium announcer exclaims: “Woodford County High School Band, you may take the field.” It’s go-time.


During the 2022 marching band season, WCHS held the program “Mirror Image.” Exactly, 75 student artists ventured into the artistry and challenge of this year’s marching season, under the direction of Michael Collins. 

In completion, the band competed at 8 competitions, under the Class AAAA division. The fixed division categorizes them into competing against marching bands of similar size. In the state of Kentucky, there are five classes by a combination of school enrollment and band size; however, in the national circuit, like, in Bands of America (BOA), the WCHS marching band is classified as Class AA, and this metric is represented by school enrollment for grades 10-12. 

Achievements

Impressively, the band was honored in being titled as the Grand Champion of the 2022 Derby City Classic at Pleasure Ridge Park High School, located in Louisville, KY.

Grand Champion of the 2022 Derby City Classic– Pleasure Ridge Park High School, Louisville, KY. (Michael Collins)

As well as receiving a distinguished rating and spot in the Kentucky Marching Band Champions Class AAAA State Semifinals at the AAAA East Quarterfinals. 

The Process

AAAA East Quaterfinals– Bourbon County High School. (Michael Collins)

Every show was a mixture of grueling effort and intense emotion. Students in the marching band begin their training for the upcoming season from late April to the end of the school year. June is known as the dead period; essentially, this is when all school sports and activities come to a pause. 

In the month of July, the marchers, colorguard, and drum majors collectively attend band camp for three weeks straight. Typically, band camp involves intensive all-day rehearsals where the basics of marching and movement are explained. It is here, the marching band director, Mr. Collins, helps students navigate the deep waters of his vision for the season and how to portray it best. Gradually over the course of the season, new portions of the show are practiced and presented for upcoming shows. Toward the end of the season, students are able to perform and provide the complete experience of the show, with a runtime of about eight minutes. 

According to Merriam-Webster, the formal definition of a marching band is: “a group of musicians who play instruments while marching together at a parade or sports event.” Yet, one could argue that it is much more than playing an instrument while marching. As much as these students spend time together and learn to share a passion for music, a second family bond is formed. 

For this article, I had the delight of interviewing three students participating in the WCHS marching band. 

First, there is Sydney Dunn, a senior, who is one of two drum majors for WCHS. Before becoming drum major, she played the trumpet and was part of the front ensemble. She has been involved with the marching band for the past six years, two of which she has been drum major, those being her junior and senior years of high school.

Next is Maddy Campbell, a junior, who plays the flute for a duet and piccolo in this year’s program. This year was her fourth year of being in the marching band.

Competition at Lafayette High School (LHS). Andrea Chandler (12) and Maddy Campbell (11). (Michael Collins.)

Last but not least, Hampton Graham, a junior, who plays alto saxophone, and has participated in marching band for two years. 

Independently, the three of them have found an inseparable bond with the marching band family. 

Dunn expresses, “With this being my last year, there was one main thing I kept thinking about and that’s how much I was going to miss spending so much time with these people. I’m not saying everyday was perfect, because it wasn’t. But, on the bad days, I still had my people with me. It’s cliché to say, but they’ve truly become a second family.”

Likewise, Campbell shares, “The best way to describe it would be a family. You spend literally every waking minute together and sometimes you want to slap a couple people but you still love them. We all work together. We are there for each other whenever something happens, like if one person is really hurting, all 70 people have your back. But there is a healthy bit of teasing and joking around too, but it’s out of love.”

Alto saxophonist, Graham, finds comfort with the environment, as he states, “The topmost reason to join Marching Band is absolutely the people.”

Marching band offers the opportunity for many to blossom within a close-knit community. In its unique way, it nourishes something many have longed for. Nowhere else can you quite find these people in the same spot, doing the same thing: together.


Additionally, being a part of the marching band contains its disciplinary element. This particular skill enforces one to challenge themselves with having a balanced schedule. For instance, Dunn explains and reassures, “Balancing school, band, and a personal life can definitely be challenging at times, but really it just requires proper planning. That’s a skill I’ve learned through band, planning things out to the best of my abilities. But it’s also definitely worth it.” 

Staying on top of school and friends and family life can have its ups and downs. One can definitely say there is a learning process through the journey of participating in multiple groups. While it may be tough to manage, the takeaway and memories make it worthwhile, as Dunn elaborated. The valued complexities of experiencing a little of everything are priceless and fundamental to finding out who you are. 

Regarding practice times, Mr. Collins informs, “Once school starts, we will typically go after school until 5:30 or 6:30, depending on the day. It ends up being about nine total hours of rehearsal time after school per week, sometimes more if we practice on a Saturday, and often we will go late the week of state championships.” In order for the marching band to function properly, everyone needs to be in attendance for rehearsals and performances to succeed. Effectively, it’s the basic training of being a strong musician.

Navigate Left
Navigate Right
Navigate Left
Navigate Right

Practice, practice, practice

Across the board, everyone’s individual routine for the preparation varies. Fortunately, Graham supplies insight into his normal, rigorous practice and competition routine. 

“On Fridays, depending on whether we perform at a home football game, we rehearse from 5:30 to 9 pm at the football stadium to gain practice marching on turf.” 

Except, on Saturdays, he typically wakes an hour to two early to prepare for rehearsing with the band. After that, almost everyone will fuel up on snacks and head over to the competition location. 

“Bus rides are extremely fun since you get to bond with the people you spend nearly 24 hours a week with, which never gets old.” Upon arrival, everyone begins rapidly dressing in uniform. Following this, a warm-up of approximately 30 minutes happens. Afterward, an eight-minute-long performance is given. 

(Madison Southern High School for State Semi-Finals. Placement: 9th, video by Logan Psak)

For someone like Campbell, her experience on the field involves a mixture of feelings, “Being on the field feels like a test because you have to remember so many things and it takes all your focus and energy. Emotions that I feel are exhilaration, determination, a little bit of fear, and passion. It’s one of the most terrifying yet gratifying feelings I have ever felt.”

Meanwhile, Dunn interprets a euphoric take, “There’s a certain rush you get from a good performance where you just know it was a good one. Even if afterwards you’re out of breath or your arms feel like they’re gonna fall off, you know that your hard work paid off, and the people in the stands got a good show.”

Once the performance has occurred, depending on the location and itinerary provided by the host location, the next performance time is varied. Hampton continues, “If we are among the first groups to go, we change, eat food and return to the field to watch other bands perform. On the other hand, if we are later, we rush back to the field and watch awards. After awards, if there are two performances/we qualify for a second performance, we do the whole thing again, if not, we stay and watch the other groups who did.” 

Either way, at the end of competition day, around midnight, the students load the bus and return back to the high school. A day of hard work has been completed and well displayed. The dedication and ongoing work ethic these kids do is genuinely impressive. It is an accomplishment that should be recognized and all should be proud of.  

Navigate Left
Navigate Right
  • Performance at George Rogers Clark High School (GRC).

  • Performance at Lafayette High School (LHS).

  • Performance for Bands of America (BOA) Regional Championship, at Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, KY.

  • Performance for Kentucky Marching Band Championship Class AAAA Semifinals (KMEA), at Madison Southern High School (MSHS).

Navigate Left
Navigate Right

Marching Memories

Understandably so, for many, the early Saturday morning rush for a competition can be nerve-racking. Although, there are ways to find enjoyment and spirit together. Campbell illustrates one way the band livens up the conditions, “… in the 2021 season… People brought speakers and we would all sing and act ridiculous. The best ride was when we went to the BOA finals and we sang songs like “We are the Champion” and “All I do is Win”. It was so hype and so much fun.” A fond memory of hers continues to live rent-free in her head. 

Another one is, “…one of the funniest memories was from 8th grade. That year our color guard had glitter in their hair and there was this couple (a band member and guard member) and we were riding the bus on our way home…and one of the chaperones was Mrs. Elmore. She and another member of the bus yelled super loud,” Glitter check!” The boy lifted his hands as if he was being threatened. The couple both turned bright red and the boy had glitter all over him. This became a normal thing that year and it still cracks me up.” It really is the simple joys that connect these students together. Memories like these last a lifetime. 


Let The Journey Begin

As you can see, the time and energy spent with the marching band community create some of the best moments to cherish. Being a part of an encouraging and supportive group helps one on the journey of self-discovery. Like anywhere else, these are just kids who want to figure out, the means of music, passion, artistry, friendships, goals, and so on; therefore, I invite you, reader, to hear words of invitation to join the marching band. 

Performance at Lafayette High School (LHS). (Michael Collins)

Campbell ardently states, “Others should join because it really teaches you to do something outside yourself. Marching Band isn’t just about you, it’s about the group and it really changes your perspective when you do something like that.” 

Drum major, Dunn, shares, “I think people should join band because you’ll never know that you like something unless you try it. I’ve made so many friends and memories because of this program and none of it would have happened if I wasn’t part of the band.” She proceeds, “What makes marching band different from other conventional competitive events is that it really is a competition against yourself. You can’t affect how the other “teams” play, so you have to make sure that you are doing everything you can do to place well.”

Perhaps the complication with time surfaces within your mind. Well, Graham, thoroughly describes his experience, “Everyone including students, band volunteers and instructors are all actively trying to make each other better… Before I joined Marching Band my biggest conflict was dedicating 8 Saturdays to traveling to a different high school that was anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours away. Being at a competition is such a neat experience because there’s nothing like it. While many sports are hyper-competitive with everyone trying to pass the other, Marching Band is all about improving as a group… This leads to an extremely positive atmosphere between groups with constant exchanges of good luck.” In the end, he believes marching is a deeply honoring experience and recommends it to anyone who is in band class or desires to be part of an incredible, supportive community. 

Although, if you find participating in marching band doesn’t completely align with your schedule, the band offers and welcomes volunteers. It is another to get involved and build relations with the students and parents. Plus, you get to see the behind-the-scenes while later viewing a rather stunning performance. Mr. Collins says, “It takes an army of volunteers to get the band on the road, dressed, fed, on the field, and all of the equipment loaded.” For the majority, volunteers tend to be adults, but they do allow students to help as well.  

One of the highest roles of leadership that can be received is being a drum major. The drum major is the leader of the marching band during rehearsals and performances. Their responsibility is to carry out the instructions of the band director and other instructional staff regarding what needs to be done with the band. Based on the band size and program, the number of drum majors varies. 

Being a marcher versus a drum major is entirely different. In one case, you’re on the field and in the other, you’re standing on a podium conducting. Dunn details her knowledge, “Being the drum major gives you a different perspective on everything. When you’re on the field, you can only see and hear so much of the show. But when you’re up on one of the podiums, you get a more complete picture. Where before you wouldn’t have noticed the woodwinds because you’re a brass player on the other side of the field, you see them clearly. But more than that, you get to see people’s improvement. It can be hard to see your own at times, but as the drum major you see it in everyone, new and old members alike. It’s a lot more stressful than being on the field was, but I loved it and wouldn’t trade these past two years for anything.” 

On the way out, Mr. Collins speaks of encouraging words, “It’s an incredible family atmosphere that’s unlike any other activity. It embraces athleticism, artistry, creativity, musicality, commitment, toughness, cooperation, and team work.  It’s a lot of work, but students find that the rewards of achieving excellence at a high level and making lifelong friends make the sacrifices worth it.” 

Final Words From Drum Major Sydney

As the 2022 marching band season closes, Sydney Dunn leaves words of motivation and advice for underclassmen, or for anyone interested in joining. 

Performance at Lafayette High School (LHS). (Michael Collins)

To the underclassmen, “… I know it can seem impossible that next year can ever be as good because the seniors are leaving. I know you’re wondering how it’s all going to work out without us. But I know that you all will be okay, truthfully, you’ll be way better than okay. You all are going to soar, and I sincerely hope you outdo us every step of the way.” Along with the rising seniors, “… you all are going to be amazing leaders. The best advice I have for you all is to be the best you that you can be, and the younger ones will learn to be the best they can be too.”