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BG marching band marches into first competitive first season

Allie Zyck, in-depth editor

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The Bison Pride marching band has been a part of BG since the school first opened its doors, but for the very first time in the school’s history, that marching band will be competitive. This football season, the band will be competing at marching festivals in addition to performing during halftime at the football games.

“I want to show off the band,” senior Ian Yambao said. “I want to go up to other competitive bands and say, I know it’s our first year, but if we keep going at it we might be able to be up to par or even better than you guys.”

Unlike marching band in the past, which has only practiced in school as an elective, competitive marching band is a co-curricular activity. The students practice their drills after school three nights a week, in addition to their in-class work.

“The level of dedication is different,” Yambao said. “People are there to get the show ready to go, and want to show off to other bands and to the crowd.”

The band being competitive has led to a change in how they prepare for their performances. Unlike their performances at football games, they will be judged against other schools. The students have come through in this regard and are motivated to be their very best as a band.

“It adds a level of drive and pride towards what we do as a band that will bleed into the entire year,” band director Henry Kappler said.  “Even though marching band is just a fall activity, I’m going to see the benefits of the rigor of what we do, and the discipline of what we do, in everything we do for the rest of the year.”

For students who have previously been in the band, this out of school work is different from the marching band they have known in the past. Being competitive gives them a chance to perform without the backdrop of a football game. It’s a different atmosphere than before where they have a chance to be the center of attention.

“I think the attitude of the band is different from last year,” sophomore Laurel Hart said, “We’re all enjoying it more than we did last year. It’s well worth the effort.”
Multiple marching festivals of varying levels of difficulty are held within Illinois. At these festivals, the band performs their routines for a panel of judges and then they are ranked among the bands attending the invitationals.

The routines are choreographed by Kappler and are led during performances by the drum majors,  who are students who signal the movements from the front of the field. For the students who don’t wish to compete or didn’t try out for the band in the spring, they can still be a part of the marching band, but they only march in parades and play in the stands during the football games.

Marching band differs from other musical opportunities in school since it is very much a team activity. Not only do the students have to count on their teammates to be playing the right music, but they also have to have faith that everyone will be where they are supposed to be.
“A lot of teamwork and a lot of trust goes into it,” Hart said. “You know where you’re supposed to be, hopefully, and you have to trust that everyone around you knows what they’re doing.”

After decades of not competing, the band is ready for this added challenge. They’ve put in the work and are excited to see how they stack up compared to the other schools in the area.

“In District 214 there’s six high schools and in the district we have some of the best marching bands in the state competitively,” Kappler said. “I saw no reason why BG couldn’t be one of those great bands.”

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