I don't mean to toot my own horn here, but I'm a big fan of high school marching bands.
Every Friday night, I'm at a high school football game somewhere in Columbia County. I've had the opportunity to personally see the Evans, Lakeside, and Greenbrier marching bands perform their halftime shows. Although I have yet to see them, Harlem also fields a marching band.
They're all impressive.
Maybe the reason for my awestruck appreciation stems from my childhood.
I was never in the band when I was younger. My high school's marching band kept to the strict rule that all of its members had to actually be able to play a musical instrument. That one always got me.
It didn't seem fair at the time. I may have been pretty good if they just let me walk around in formation holding a boom box that was playing a tape-recorded piccolo.
It probably wouldn't have worked out. I can't even properly twirl a baton without biting my tongue.
So I'll leave it up to the pros. We've certainly got them here in Columbia County.
At Evans, the 150-student marching band is going international again. For the third time, the band will travel to England to play in the London New Year's Day Parade. Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of seeing (and hearing) this band perform. They're as fun to watch cheering for their team in the stands as they are on the field at halftime.
Greenbrier has approximately half of the state of Georgia enrolled in its marching band. At halftime, the band almost struggles with getting its 237 students on the field at once.
Their routine this year comes from the music of Queen. It seemed a bit odd when the band broke out in We are the Champions with the Wolfpack trailing 28-7 against Westside at halftime. The music has been more fitting lately with the football team's new-found success.
If you can't make it to a Greenbrier halftime show this season, just open your window on a Friday night. If you're in Columbia County, you can probably hear the Greenbrier brass section.
Lakeside's band has, by far, the smoothest, most debonair performance with the music of James Bond. During the entire second half after watching this crew perform, I was humming the James Bond theme song.
The band's fortitude is also impressive. The season began with one of their own, Chelsea Collins, suddenly passing away in August. The cause of her death is still not known, but the band members have made sure everyone knows how much Chelsea was loved and respected. For the remainder of the season, a spot has been left open at the xylophone with a framed photo and Chelsea's hat marking her place. The marching band has dedicated this season's halftime show to the memory of Chelsea.
Harlem's rich tradition continues this season as the marching band celebrates its 50th anniversary. The band is under new leadership with director Stacey Wade at the helm. Harlem's halftime performance includes music from Earth, Wind, and Fire, and from what I've heard, the 115 band members know how to put the "fun" in "funky."
Those four marching bands are the cream of the crop for halftime entertainment. Many of these students practice just as much as the football players, if not more, to prepare for their weekend performance.
So next Friday night, watch your high school's marching band. In one performance you'll see how tough it really is. And while you're at it, someone tell me why they're called drum majors when they don't even touch a drum.
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