Editor’s note: Marcia Morris has a special affinity for the Mount Pleasant Marching Band, since her son is arguably the best baritone player in the history of the school and possibly the universe.
They’re a staple of football games and Christmas parades: the high school marching band.
Yet many may not realize the hours of work that go into preparing those five or 10 minutes of halftime entertainment.
The Mount Pleasant High School Marching Band just finished one its most successful seasons in years, capped by an impressive performance at a Bands of America competition in Atlanta.
At that event, which director Bart Tulbert called “an opportunity to perform at a national level,” the band finished in second place for class A.
That recognition came for a show called “The Barber Shop,” a performance that lasted about seven minutes but took hundreds of hours to prepare.
The show’s concept was introduced to students last spring. In May, new marching band students endured a week of rookie camp, where they learned marching technique.
In June and July, band members spent about six hours a week in rehearsals, and in August they suffered through band camp – two weeks of 12-hour days devoted to music, physical fitness, basics drills and learning the show.
Once school began, marchers spent five days a week either in rehearsal, playing at football games or at competitions. Yet the amount of time dedicated to band is exceeded only by the students’ enthusiasm and love for what they do.
Drum major Josh Adams pointed out that Mount Pleasant has a long history of success in marching band, but that this year has been special.
He said this year’s show – with such familiar music as “The Barber of Seville,” “Pretty Women” (from the musical “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”), and “Goodbye, My Coney Island Baby” – is easy for audiences to relate to.
“Everyone knows what it’s like to get a haircut,” he said.
Though initially students were skeptical about the show’s theme (“We all thought Tulbert had lost his mind,” one said), they listened to the music, watched the movie version of “Sweeney Todd” and Bugs Bunny cartoons, and the concept “caught fire,” Tulbert said.
He called this season a “perfect storm” for success. The show is tailor-made to fit the band’s personnel, with catchy music, supportive parents, fun props (including 10-foot barber poles and a Dapper Dan can), a strong work ethic from students, and the support of the school district.
All those factors have allowed the band to “perform fearlessly,” he said. “We’ve been compared with programs from all over the country,” Tulbert said, “and shown that we are capable.”
This year’s show is “one we’ll be talking about for years to come,” he said.
What’s most impressive, however, is to hear band students talk about the lessons they’ve learned: how to work hard, to listen, be a leader, and think for the good of the group.
Their focus is not on trophies won, but on the fun they have together.
The band’s 10 seniors refused to take any credit for this year’s success, but instead talked about how much they enjoy working together.
Cody Harrison summed it up: “I’m just here for the camaraderie.”