Milford Marching Band sees success at States

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Milford Marching Band sees success at States

The band and color guard at the competition

The band and color guard at the competition

Joshua Morlan

The band and color guard at the competition

Joshua Morlan

Joshua Morlan

The band and color guard at the competition

Sam Spray, Managing Editor

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Hours upon hours have been poured into one performance. Blood, sweat, and tears have been shed. Sleep has been lost. All for seven short minutes.

These seven minutes belong to the Milford Marching Band, and specifically describe the routine that they created to compete at the state level this year, which they did on Saturday, Nov. 2 at Ford Field.

This year’s routine was entitled “Pandemic”, and was performed at the MCBA state competition in Flight II, which means a school consists of 1,251 to 1,685 members. The routine placed sixth with a score of 86.450 (out of a possible 100), the highest that Milford has received in 13 years. So what exactly did it take to achieve such a feat?

Beginning in mid-July each year, the Milford High School marching band practices for upwards of seven hours a day, five days a week in order to create a stunning routine. Practices during these summer months run from 2-9 p.m., with rigorous training that begins with the learning of “band fundamentals.” After they have those skills down-pat, it is on to Band Camp.

This four-day experience can be described as nothing else other than extreme. As said by Junior Kendyll Klingensmith, “Unless we’re eating, sleeping, or doing nighttime activities, we are practicing.” During this time, the band learns 50-70 “dots,” which are the coordinates on the field that are used during their show. They also learn more than four pages of music. However, even that is nothing compared to the work they shoulder during the fall.

Once school begins, practices span from 5 to 9 p.m., which really means 4:45 to 9:30, when prep-time and clean up are accounted for. These practices are held every Monday and Wednesday, with extended practices being held on Saturdays, the length of which depends on the presence, or lack thereof, of a show (9 a.m. to 5 p.m. without one).

At these rehearsals, the band not only practices marching and the score, but they also frequently run laps and stretch, with the final practices of the season entailing mile-long runs. That, combined with the fact that these students are marching at 170 beats per minute, leads to rehearsals characterized by strenuous activity, as opposed to music made while comfortably seated. But for most students, this hard work is well worth the effort, which was made clear at the state competition.

The competition had truly begun in July, but the climax had yet to arrive for the MHS band until Nov. 2. It was then that they overcame the challenge of the season to place sixth. “I really wanted to get seventh this year because we lost about 20 members and just getting the same placement that we had during, ‘What Dreams May Come’ would have been great,” said Klingensmith. “When they announced another band as seventh, and then us as sixth, I started crying because I was so happy. I never expected to do so well with the drop-off and some of the other difficulties that arose throughout the season, however hearing how well we did was probably one of the best moments of my life.”

Another member, Junior Dan Ellis, expressed a similar yet more emotionally-complex take on States: “States is both the most climactic and anti-climatic part of the entire season,” he said. After elaborating on the effort put into this performance, he said, “For me, States has always been a really sad moment, to leave a show behind that has played such a role in your life and you’ve devoted so much time to is devastating for obvious reasons. This year’s States was no different, but it was a fantastic moment for this year’s band. It’s such a surreal experience to perform a show that you’ve put so much into. I remember getting up to play my solo and thinking, ‘this is really it’, and knowing it was my last time to perform something I would be proud of for years to come.”

That sense of accomplishment is what keeps the Milford Marching Band alive through practices in thunderstorms and sideways rain. It is what separates them from the pack. These students are proud to be a part of something so magnificently rewarding, and it shows. This team comes together year after year both on the field and off of it to create something that is worth their time. They worked hard to achieve what they did, and as color guard Junior Keilani Hess said, “It felt amazing to end the season on such a high note.”