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The Band to Beat

Blue and White Vanguard members share their competition triumphs.

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   Imagine the Color Guard’s bright flags twirling through the air as the drumline maintains a steady beat to guide the instruments. All of this, but in a competition setting, describes the high school’s newest addition to the band department: Blue and White Vanguard.

   “We wanted to provide opportunities for students that gave them options,” band director Eddie Owen said. “Some students really love the competitive aspect of marching band, and want to come early, learn music that is very challenging, and also ‘step up their game’ with others of like mind.”

Getting Competitive

   With the division of marching band in two, there are bound to be some differences in the preparation and amount of time dedicated by each member. However, for freshman Abbie Pitchell the change is welcome.

They called our name for first, and we all took a step forward, the drum majors were crying and everyone else was laughing. It was such an amazing feeling, it’s almost like butterflies on a rollercoaster.”

— Junior Tessa Bigses

   “It’s more challenging than regular band, and I love to challenge myself,” Pitchell said. “Being in Blue and White Vanguard is more advanced because we have more drills and sets to memorize along with faster and harder music.”

   The sole purpose of creating Blue and White Vanguard is to cater more toward students who are more competition-oriented. It is a combination of Color Guard’s exotic movements, drumline consistent beat, and many other instruments as they work together to put on a worthy performance. In light of this, their recent standings at multiple invitationals, such as first and second in different categories, have improved from before this change. For instance, on Oct. 20, it placed first in its division and hopes to make this the start of a winning streak.

   “We definitely went to more competitions that challenged us this year,” junior Tessa Bisges said. “I think we used to go to competitions that played more toward our strengths. Now we were really able to see the bands that went above and beyond and are very talented. These competitions showed us how far we can go.”

   This is Bisges’ second year on Color Guard, and she knows the feeling of being scrutinized under watchful eyes. While Vanguard is performing, judges walk around the field in close proximity with the band.

Freshman Abby Schuele performs during the Vanguard showcase performance on October 6. “We are truly proud of each and every student involved in the Liberty Band program,” band director Eddie Owen said. “We love each and every one of them the same – each one of our kids matters to us – not just as musicians, but even more as the amazing people that they are.”
Photo by MaryAnn Johnson

   Senior Tyson Parco, a member of the drumline, can attest to the nerve-wracking aspect of competitions as well.

   “Every week we put in around 17 hours of work to prepare for competitions,” Parco said. “Once you get a rhythm going and become in sync with other people, everyone is focused on trying to make sure they’re following that rhythm and going in the right direction.”

Working Pays Off

   While many people see the entirety of the band perform, more are unaware of the amount of work put into these performances.

   “Color Guard and drumline have sectionals on Tuesdays for around three hours,” Bisges said. “We have morning rehearsal every weekday from 6:30 a.m. until the end of first hour. We also have sectionals on Thursdays for three hours. Before competitions, we have to come early to load the buses and get everything ready for the performance.”

   Hours of preparation can encourage members to do their best, and this can lead to finding the best solution to pre-performance jitters.

   “You also have to mentally prepare yourself before you do it,” Pitchell said. “I close my eyes and think that this is one of the last competitions I’m going to have this year so I have to take advantage of the opportunity.”

Color Guard leaders hold their flags in a downward position to direct the rest of the group. “Every week we put in around 17 hours of work to prepare for competitions,” senior Tyson Parco said. “Once you get a rhythm going and become in sync with other people, everyone is focused on trying to make sure they’re following that rhythm and going in the right direction.”
Photo by MaryAnn Johnson

   Although students may be nervous in their initial performance in front of judges, it is clear that the pay off is greater than the obstacles they face.

   “When they didn’t call our name at UCM (University of Central Missouri) for third or second place we all assumed we didn’t place,” Bisges said. “But they called our name for first, and we all took a step forward, the drum majors were crying and everyone else was laughing. It was such an amazing feeling, it’s almost like butterflies on a rollercoaster.”

Taking Pride

   With the spirits of Vanguard members at an all-time high, the season’s recent end has led many to plan for next year’s group of students.

   “Not only are we proud of the Blue and White Vanguard this year, but we are truly proud of each and every student involved in the Liberty Band program,” Owen said. “We love each and every one of them the same. Each one of our kids matters to us, not just as musicians but even more as the amazing people that they are.”

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The Band to Beat