Lake Dallas High School Band is a Team in Itself

Lake Dallas High School Band is a Team in Itself

by Susan Neuhalfen

School bands are legendary in North Texas and the evolution of band itself in the last few decades has met incredible change, not just from a musical standpoint, but from a performance standpoint. From a halftime perspective, marching bands have become as entertaining as the football game itself and just as competitive.

Marching band takes long hours and many months of practice. Though it’s not as rough as some sports, it is still physically taxing and equally as frustrating until the team comes together and it all pays off.

“I love marching band,” said Lake Dallas Director of Bands, Denise Kennedy. “To see the kids finally get it is worth the long hours. I don’t know if I could have done it at their age.”

She is specifically talking about Lake Dallas High School’s new halftime show, which they will also use for their competitions against other high school bands this year. The students started practicing the music in May and formal practices began in late July. The theme of their performance is “The Silk Road” based on 1001 Arabian Nights. For Kennedy and her team, they start their show ideas as early as January and she is especially fond of this one.

“I love the music, it’s based off Scheherezade by Nikolai Korsakov,” said Kennedy. “The show is based on the many cultures encountered.”

The majority of the kids love marching band, and, according to Kennedy, despite the long hours they are hooked after the first performance. The football games are just a precursor to the competitions that start in October. Little by little they add to and tweak the show through the halftime performance until they are ready for competition. This all leads up to the UIL Marching Contest where they hope to advance to the state competition.

“It’s very competitive but the band members are committed,” said Kennedy. “They not only work together as a team on the field, they work together in school as well.”

What Kennedy is referring to is the camaraderie that bonds the students in band. For example, they have SOS or Save our Show day each week. At one point, they found that some students were failing one or more classes so the older band members began a tutoring session for the younger ones.

“The students really relate to learning from other students,” said Kennedy. “They talk teenager and not teacher and sometimes that just what they need.”

They also act as mentors for the younger students learning leadership and leading by example. At the end of the day, points out Kennedy, band teaches students so much more than music.

In addition to their competitive performance of The Silk Road, the students also need to learn the spirit show that includes separate drills and separate music incorporating the entire band. These are the pre-game shows that include songs like “Deep in the Heart of Texas.” They also play pep songs throughout the game so there is a lot of practice involved.

The one component that is unseen on the field is the long hours that the band parents put into the show. It’s not just a matter of getting their kids to practice or a game, they are the ones who deal with everything from uniforms to driving equipment, giving up hours for the sake of the team.

“If it weren’t for the parents, I wouldn’t have a job,” said Kennedy. “The more parents get involved, the easier it is on all of us.”

When asked what she thought of her team, Kennedy was quick to note that she while she hopes their hard work pays off in winning competitions, she couldn’t be prouder of what she has seen from them this year.

“I’ve been teaching 25 years and never have I had a group of students work so hard,” she said. “The heat, the long days…it doesn’t seem to bother them. They just push through and I can’t ask for more
than that.”

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