BHS marching band excited about expanded opportunities in 2021

The Bearden High School marching band spends hours a week practicing their craft in preparation for half time performances and competitions throughout the year. Band students and directors sacrifice time in order to pursue their passion for music.

Due to COVID-19, much of their sacrifice was robbed from them in the 2020 season. Due to travel restrictions, the marching band was unable to attend away football games and could not compete in competitions as they usually do from September to November.

Students were required to wear cloth coverings on wind instrument bells, which in turn caused performance limitations as these instruments are not intended to be played with a barrier in front of them.

The marching band also had to change their high difficulty level field show to a more achievable show due to a limited amount of rehearsal time with many people often missing and attending virtually.

The marching band faced a plethora of hassles in the 2020 band season, but rather than looking at these hurdles as setbacks, the band sees them as a time of personal growth.

“We really try to think of [the 2020 season] as not being a loss,” band director Mr. James Wilson said. “While some skills our students would typically have at this point might not be as developed as years past, we have gained other valuable assets. 

“Our students learned resilience, empathy, flexibility, self-care, and the importance of not taking anything for granted. One could argue this knowledge is much more valuable than our usual curriculum.”

The events of last year have given band performers impetus to push each other to unprecedented heights.

“I feel as if all of our experiences with how last year’s show went we all have a different perspective on our opportunity to do and encourage others to do something great this year,” said senior Stephen Grimes, the drumline section leader.

This year, the band has strong leaders for the underclassmen to look up to, partially due to the hardships that they endured last year.

“​Our leadership is strong this year,” Mr. Wilson said. “They have lived through a pandemic, and that has given them a wonderful gift: a reminder not to take anything for granted. 

“Because of that our leaders see that every rep of the show could, and eventually will, be the last. They are doing a great job of encouraging the younger students and keeping a healthy mindset while working in incredible heat.”

As Mr. Wilson mentioned, current band students have a newfound resilience and determination. This year, nothing is being taken for granted. Each time they step out on the field for a performance, they play as if it is their last time on the field.

“We are making the best out of it this year, in case we won’t be here next season,” senior vibraphone player Abby Scott said.

With the rigorous practice and performance schedule, band students are surrounded by their bandmates for hours a week. Due to this, bandmates have become as close as family.

“I have only been in the band for two years, and it has brought me so much joy, just because there are so many amazing people in the band,” Scott said. “I have met my best friends in band, and just become more myself.

“What’s great about band people is that yes, we may be kinda weird, but also we don’t really care, like we can just be ourselves and so that’s what makes it so fun.”

Bearden has not only provided band students with a place where students feel encouraged to be themselves and make friends, but it has also given students an opportunity to grow as musicians, and as individuals.

“The aspect of growing as an individual and a musician is the thing that makes me love this activity so much,” Grimes said. “Being able to look back at me freshman year, think about how hard I’ve worked and look at where we are now makes me extremely proud.

“Being in a position where I can give guidance to younger students that wish to be in my shoes one day brings me a great deal of joy.”

As with most things in life, the band eventually ends for everyone. Whether it be in high school, college, or the professional world, everyone puts their instrument down for the last time. Luckily for band students, this experience gives them the skills to achieve their career goals.

​”It’s why I love this job,” Mr. Wilson said. “This activity gives students the tools to be successful at whatever they dream about. 

“We have students that have gone on to be dentists, doctors, teachers, musicians, lawyers, military, and the list goes on. When I get to talk to them later in life, they always mention how the skills they learned in band have helped them in the real world. It’s incredibly rewarding.”