KHS Marching Band hard at work

KHS Marching Band (photo by Steve Woodhouse)

Knoxville High School Band Director Ben McCartney and his crew have been hard at work on their 2019 program, and competition season is soon approaching.

The band’s program this season has the theme of “school”. Inspired by the John Hughes classic 80s film “The Breakfast Club,” the band and color guard – a new feature for this year – tell the story of how students can goof off, but teachers will always be there to bring them back to the right path. What McCartney hopes comes through is a testament to how much teachers truly care for their students and their students’ success.

“Our goal with this show is to somewhat show, basically high school students being high school students,” McCartney said.

With the addition of the color guard, McCartney wanted to work in more visuals and a little satire. Members of the guard will each portray the student and the teacher.

Kayla Price, a science teacher at the middle school, has been working with the members of the color guard. As this is something new for her, as well as the students, McCartney offers nothing but praise for the amount of hard work everyone involved has been putting in.

This year, the band also has a new percussion instructor, Matt Hoskins. McCartney said Hoskins is doing a fantastic job as well, and his drummers have put in a great deal of extra time to really improve the show.

Music for this year’s program includes original music composed by Brian Hummel, originally from the Pleasant Hill area who is now a band director in Arizona. McCartney and Hummel attended college together, and this is the third year the two have collaborated on selections for marching band. Hummel would write pieces and send them to McCartney for feedback to find the perfect match for the program, as well as the band’s strengths.

With Hummel’s original pieces, the band performs “Symphony #40 in G Minor” by Mozart, Tchaikovsky’s love theme from “Romeo and Juliet” and, in the spirit of the show and “Breakfast Club” theme, “Don’t You Forget About Me” by Simple Minds. McCartney used a blueprint of the Simple Minds sing, written for the drumline and expanded it for the entire band.

This year’s drum majors are Jayce Hughes and Sophia Murphy. You see them directing the band’s halftime performances during KHS football games.

Saturday, Sept. 21, marks the first test for the band’s readiness to compete. In Johnston this weekend, McCartney and crew will take part in a competition/clinic. The performance is scheduled for 12:20 p.m.

There will be no placements awarded, but the rest of the day will mirror a marching band competition. They will receive scores, as well as judges’ tapes to let them know how their musical performances and marching program were.

McCartney will then use this information to help the band prepare for competition season. Pella’s Marching Dutch Invitational will be held Sept 28 (KHS performs at 7:45 p.m.), followed by Urbandale’s competition on Oct. 5 (KHS performs at 6:13 p.m.), Valleyfest on Oct. 12 and the State Marching Contest, held in Pella, on Oct. 19. Times for the band’s performances at Valleyfest and the state contest have not been announced.

“They’re doing great,” McCartney says of the band’s progress thus far. “They’re further along than we have been in past years.”

The band is young, led by a group of upper classmen leadership who have done a great job demonstrating what the band’s expectations are. Everyone involved has been working hard and McCartney has seen real improvement from his musicians. While there is always room for improvement, McCartney knows that when he gets everyone to play his/her part – and do so with confidence – the band can put out a confident, full sound. He knows they can do it.

“They’re doing pretty well with it,” McCartney said.