Loud and proud

Marching band places third in the 2021 Youth In Music


Photo courtesy of Brian Lhamon

Performing in Minnesota at this year’s BOA Championships, senior Preston Ward plays the trombone. Besides playing his instrument, Ward is one of the Majors and is in charge of monitoring the band as a whole during performances. “One thing I found challenging while performing was making sure the band stays in tempo at all times,” Ward said. “Throughout the show, some sections were not in sync with each other, and it is my responsibility to bring them back together.”

Samantha Vojslavek, Features Editor

On Saturday, Oct. 9, the Millard West Band traveled across the midwest to Minneapolis, Minn., to compete in the 17th annual Youth in Music Band Competition hosted at the U.S. Bank Stadium. 

Competing against 35 other high school and university bands stretching across the states of Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, Millard West stood as the only band from Nebraska. The event this year was the largest on record, with nearly 5,000 students participating. 

Throughout the preceding weeks building up to the show date, repetitive practice was crucial and found during morning practices everyday before school. Additional afternoon sessions occurred every Tuesday.  One week prior, the group participated in their first local show of the season which gave them a taste of competition and leverage for the upcoming championships in Minnesota.

“Since we performed at the Vikings stadium, they had professional hash marks which are different from high school shows, so that difference created some confusion,” senior Megan Schubert said. “The numbering system on the field made it more difficult to find our spot on the field for the show, and the huge big screens were distracting at times while we performed.” 

Upon entering the field, each band was permitted 15 minutes from the time they walked out to the moment the last prop was off the sideline. The band’s performance lasted around 10 minutes and included the recorded pre-show and then three parts. The students performed four songs total: “Amazing Grace,” “Digging in the Dirt,” “Life and Death” and “Urban Dances.”

“Before performing I was thinking about our performance and visualizing everything we practiced in rehearsals,” senior Preston Ward said. “I thought our performance in Minnesota was the best this year, and I felt proud of our results because we competed against many other phenomenal bands.”  

Alongside senior Emma Kopetsky, Ward received the title of ‘Best Drum Majors’ against every bands’ majors who competed. Being responsible for the ordliness and performance throughout rehearsals and competitions, Ward played an essential role in the band’s success last weekend. Additionally, senior Luke Heinrich was awarded ‘Best Performer’ over all of the other contenders. 

“The awards Preston, Emma and Luke received were well deserved, and I think they have done a great job all year,” band director John Keith said. “The band had tremendous growth this year. The students worked hard all year in rehearsals, and I am very proud of their performances and what they accomplished all year.” 

As this year’s Youth in Music Championships concluded, the Millard West Band did not return home empty handed. Showcasing themselves as one of the top bands in the midwest, Millard West finished first in their class: Class AAA, placed third collectively, and earned a total of 86.90 points against all competing schools. As their season wraps up, the team will strive to improve and transfer their earned experiences to the State Competition on Saturday Oct. 22 in hopes of ending their season unforgettably.