The world’s in her hands
Great Mills High School marching band ‘quietly proud’ about recent successes
Great Mills High School sophomore Carolyn Crawford holds last week an inflatable globe last week during the marching band’s rehearsal.
Great Mills High School’s 47 marching band members so far have been rewarded for their long summer of rehearsals with victories at competitive events. This week and next, they’re preparing another competition, the U.S. Bands Open Class National Championships scheduled for Nov. 11 in New Jersey.
Band director Matthew Pearson said last week the band came in first place in their open class division in every contest, including the 2017 Marine Corps Invitational hosted in Annapolis on Oct. 21.
The band participated in its fifth contest on Oct. 28, where they won first place in their division over Chopticon High School.
The show, titled “Into the Cosmos,” details “the wonder of space travel,” as well as a conflict involving unidentified flying objects and the ride back home, Pearson said.
Band staff purchased the music and modified it for percussion needs, Pearson said, adding that they can “focus more creative energy into the drill than the music.”
Sophomore Carolyn Crawford said she loves this year’s show and it “creates a beautiful picture. It gets a big crowd reaction.”
She said having the two extra weeks this summer due to the academic year not starting until Sept. 5 helped the students lay the ground work of the show and get extra time on the field.
Pearson said he was concerned about students “getting burned out,” but he and his staff adjusted to the new schedule.
As a color guard member and the assistant drum major, Crawford said her mother jokes that “she spends more time on the field with the group [this year] than at my house … This is my home.”
She said “everyone should try” marching band, as it helped her build discipline. “It’s changed me as a person,” she said.
Senior Noah Busby said the marching band’s performances this year “are the best I’ve seen of any school.”
He said “the pure quality of the show … how well its written, it’s not too complicated.”
Busby said he and other band students are “quietly proud” of their accomplishments this year, but “there is always room to improve.”
Pearson said students knew going into the season they were going to compete with Chopticon and were excited to outscore its county rival, “because of the kind of program” it was.
From the student’s perspective, they “won because of the efforts” they put in, Pearson said, adding that they set the bar high to improve every time.
“In marching band, we learn to win and lose,” Pearson said. “It comes down to how hard you rehearse.”
Pearson said he compares his students’ self improvement to the racing video game “Mario Cart.”
“I tell the kids to race [and] beat their ghost characters … to improve” when they gather to practice, he said.
Sandy Crawford, Carolyn Crawford’s mother and band booster treasurer, said “last year was a rebuilding year” and students were able to “hit the ground running” because there was already a foundation for marching techniques expected from the students.
Marching band is “a good way to make good friends fast,” she said, adding that it’s a “wonderful way to transition from middle school to high school … It’s a godsend for parents who are concerned.”
The show uses donated props like propane tanks, as band parents “get creative and repurpose, recycle and make do,” Sandy Crawford said. The band welcomes “any and all donations of money and time,” she said.
Dex Hansard, GM’s band booster president, said in a phone call Tuesday the “band has done exceedingly well. We didn’t lose a lot of seniors,” this year, he said, crediting the older students with helping the younger ones grow as performers.
Hansard said the band scores continue to go up, and that he and other band parents are excited to see how well the band will perform on Nov. 11, “where eight or nine bands compete at a national level.”
The band booster president said Southern Maryland “has a good reputation for marching band” and other fine arts programs. “For each of the high schools to host their own band competition, it says a lot about the [community’s] dedication” to the activity, he said.
Great Mills High School senior Noah Busby marches last week during rehearsal.