Home Away From Home: Marching Band

The behind the scenes of our Eaglecrest Marching band and what brought these students to feel inspired to start playing.

Every A day, about 200 kids attend a band class. Some begin their day setting up chairs in the band room, while the others end their day putting away their instruments in the locker room. Many of them see the band room as a home. Hanging about before school and chatting with their friends, even the quietest of introverts can be seen in the band room, conversing with the people who sit beside them during class, or who has a set near them in marching band. It’s the most unlikely place for connections. 

“When I was young, I was only playing the trombone because my parents told me to,” trombone player Jacob McGuire recalls. “So I joined the high school band because I was already playing and I thought it was the natural thing to do. But, it actually turned out to be a really good thing. The band is just a good environment.” Several band members explained that they only joined because one or many of their family members had played instruments in the past, or because they wanted their children to do something they have never done before. For most of these students, they realize now that joining band was one of the best decisions they could have made.

Evan Keppy plays the song “Just Wing It” along with the band on the tenor saxophone. (Ren Hotzfeld)

One of the most memorable moments in a band student’s life is the feeder concerts, whether they are participating or simply just attending one. Middle schools in the district will go to feeder elementary schools, such as Antelope Ridge and Timberline, and play music for the students. Nearly all of the band students at Eaglecrest participated in one of these concerts when they were in middle school. Just as much as this is an important event for students of the high school, it is an important event for the children in the feeder elementary schools.

Trombonists (right to left) David Wrigley, Jordan Johnson, and Olivia Pierce practice their tunes. (Ren Hotzfeld)

“I saw the Horizon feeder concert when I was in fifth grade; they played a Hunger Games theme, and I heard the flutes do the iconic whistle, and I was like, ‘Oh my God’. That’s what set it for me,” said Ashlynn Owens, senior and marching band drum major. 

Fellow senior Jolina Andrews’ story comes to comparison to Ashlynn Owens as she explains, “I went to one of the concerts, and there was this dude who was playing the trombone, and he had a solo part. I heard it and thought, ‘I wanna be that, I wanna do that. I want to play the trombone.’” Even you may have seen one of these concerts yourself. You may have heard the trombone solo and thought, “Hm, pretty cool, but not for me.” But for these two students, and many others in the program, the concerts had struck a chord in their hearts and convinced them to make a brilliant decision.

I’ve heard from numerous students who would concur that band is a big part of their lives. “It gave me a lot of friends and support, because they’re good people.” McGuire said during his interview with a smile. Owens agrees.

“I love it so much, it’s affected me so much, and I want it to be my career. I want to be a band director!” Ashlynn remarked that without joining band, she would be very lost in life, without a career path to follow. She says that she would be a “way different person”, and that she’d feel much less secure of herself.

Joe Mello, Rachel Carlson and Adam Dymond are seen playing their trumpets. (Ren Hotzfeld)

Every so often, just the same as any other class, a student will walk in and give a pass to the teacher, or happen to walk by a class and hear the chatter inside. One may walk past the band room and think, “Ah, band kids, lonely and weird”- stereotypes, for the most part.  While a handful of them may be weird, they are not lonely. The band is a family. They do not just play music, or learn music theory. Band class is unlike any other class; more connections are made than in your simple math class or English class. “I’ve gotten to meet so many new people, and have built so many close friendships. These people are literally my best friends. I get to see my best friends three times a week, pretty much!” Andrews beamed. Sophomore bass clarinetist Manaya Golatt agreed, saying that band has had a big impact on her life, especially with friendships and learning how to be outgoing. Many band students have confided that band has even saved their lives, and that they have no idea where they’d be without the class. As they leave the band room after school or rehearsal, they leave with a smile on their faces, overjoyed with their decision to listen to their parents’ pleas for them to join, or to follow their heart and become the person they heard playing that solo at the feeder concert.