Sound the horns: LHS band to host competition
Event is part recruitment and part fundraiser
It’s been more than two decades since all three St. Mary’s public high schools have each hosted a marching band competition.
Leonardtown High School will be hosting its first marching band competition in 21 years, The Battle at Breton, on Saturday, Oct. 7, starting at 4 p.m. The event is part fundraiser and part recruitment, band representatives said. Local bands such as Great Mills and Chopticon, as well as others from Calvert County and around Maryland, will be attending.
Band director Hunter Martin said he wasn’t sure why the high school hasn’t hosted a competition in 21 years, but “suspects the amount of turnover” in recent years might be one reason.
“We’ve been planning for this since the end of 2016,” he said. “There was a lot of legwork involved, but it was worth it.” Leonardtown’s marching band currently has 45 members.
“The event will be adjudicated … by judges from U.S. Bands,” an organization with ties to the Drum Corps International, a professional marching band organization where groups compete across the country, Martin said, adding that many of his students enjoy DCI. Judges will look to critique how musical the band is, how well the band marches and other factors.
Martin said hosting the event is “for the betterment of the kids … it’s making them happy and excited about marching band.”
He said his students are excited to “finally get the rest of the drill on the field and host the competition so everyone can see the show in its entirety.”
The band has already performed in competitions at Great Mills and Chopticon high schools, as well as in Anne Arundel County.
Martin said the marching show’s music and drill was produced by a third-party company, but he could customize the order.
Todd Burroughs, the public schools’ superintendent for fine arts, said last week it’s exciting that all three St. Mary’s high schools will be hosting such events this year.
“It speaks to the level of enthusiasm the county has about marching band,” he said.
The event is a fundraiser and opportunity to recruit for the band, booster president Robin Paul said, adding that “it’s a good chance to witness something unique.”
“Parents are excited about it because they don’t have to travel,” Mar- tin said. “It’s less invasive on weekend planning.”
“The community takes pride in what we do,” he said. “I think the county as a whole is excited in taking part of the experience.”
Paul said his daughter and stepson are involved with the marching band. He said his children see marching band as a time “to see their friends, perform and learn more about music and drill.”
Leonardtown High School junior Taylor Wolt said this year’s halftime show is called “The Master Puppeteer,” and explores the story of puppets that rebel against their puppeteer. She plays trumpet in the marching band.
Students should join marching band because “it’s a good community to be in,” she said.
Marching band is “a great place to meet new people as a freshman” Wolt said, adding that most of her friends are in band. “We support each other” on and off the field.
The marching band scored well during its first two competitions, taking the top place in their category, Wolt said, adding that Martin is more concerned with making sure students are growing as performers.
“‘Keep improving’ is what Mr. Martin says,” Wolt said.
Leonardtown junior Kirby Heckathron said he loves this year’s halftime show and it’s “super fun.” He plays a contra, or a marching tuba.
He said marching band “is a great experience and brings you together. It helps you get a bit more physically fit and you learn more about yourself” as students perform their music and drill routine.
Martin said more than 60 middle school band students are scheduled to play the national anthem with the high schoolers prior to the start of the event.
“Parents are happier with having a local competition because it’s less time-consuming and less expensive to go to,” Robin said.
The band boosters president said he is “grateful for the local community support to fund” band activities, and that “the school system doesn’t chip in, band boosters have to foot” most of the bill for marching band equipment, competition fees and other financing.
The event “lends itself to an opportunity to meet other students and be around others who are excited about marching band,” Martin said, adding the event may encourage shy students to talk to other band members at the event.
Leonardtown High School junior Kirby Heckathorn stands on Sept. 28 in a rehearsal circle with his marching band members while Band Director Hunter Martin directs them through the high school’s fight song.