Photos courtesy of Chris Sweeney
It may be easy to think of a high school student you know who wakes up early for some sort of practice. Add a long-sleeved uniform with a feathered hat, specific drills to run and an instrument pressed against your face or hanging around your neck to the practice, though. Can you still think of someone?
Not as easy, is it?
For 50 Carbon High Students, however, that vision has become a living, breathing, marching and playing reality. A reality that takes time, talent and tenacity.
“If you aren’t marching in a specific style, your instrument is going all over the place and it affects your sound,” Carbon’s Director of Bands Tana Jenson said in regards to Carbon High’s recently-created marching band, the Dino Stampede. “You have to learn to walk a different way, breathe a different way, play a different way.”
Jenson leads the band as director while fellow CHS faculty member Chris Sweeney and Helper Middle School’s Adam Cunningham serve as assistant directors.
“It really works much like a sport,” Sweeney said. “We’re aiming to put something out there on the field just like sports teams would. You have to practice the basics just like a sports team would. You want to do your best and you want to make it better and better each time you take the field.”
Formed last year after the absence of a marching band anywhere from 15 to 20 years, the Dino Stampede has practiced and performed their way through various competitions and the community as a whole.
The Dino Stampede has already delighted the community with several performances at football half time shows and have taken their performance on the road to compete at different competitions, representing Carbon County well despite missing a color guard.
Recently, the members of the Dino Stampede also made a trip to several elementary schools in the area to convey a message through the lines of notes and dynamics.
“In building the marching band program and just the band program in general, it really does start at the elementary level” Jenson said. “I really want to get people to the point that band is cool. Because honestly there’s a lot of cool stuff out there that we could do if we can get everybody to buy into it. Not just the kids, not just the parents, but the community and the other students that aren’t involved.”
For the marching band, highs and lows are expected just as in any endeavor. A noticeable high came recently before the band’s inaugural competition, when members were faced with attending their first competition without proper uniforms.
Upon receiving a call from an agent, however, Jenson received the news that the uniforms could be overnighted to Carbon County with just one caveat: the uniforms would not come with a hat, nor would they be pressed nor organized.
Jenson’s approval of the delivery then set in place a whirlwind of organizing and ironing. Community members assisted amidst torrential rains and flooding to ensure that, after a day full of classifying, two hours spent ironing and 16 irons, the band finally looked the part in time to perform the next day.
A challenge, for the team, however, is the sometimes monotony of performing the same show and drills continually, always looking for ways to improve.
“We’ve left a few practices thinking, ‘I don’t know what we’re going to do to get this exciting again,’” according to Sweeney, “but amazingly enough every time we do I think those are the high points is we’re to accomplish something and the kids see the accomplishment that they’ve put in, not just as an individual, but as a team.”
The team will represent the blue and white at the 2016 state competition which will be hosted at the end of this week in St. George. The students will be able to take the stage twice while in Southern Utah as they perform in both the Red Rocks Competition and the state competition.
At the end of the day, however, the half-time show made up of flutes, saxophones, trumpets, percussion and other instruments is much more than just another extracurricular option for students.
“It’s a production, I mean it’s a full production,” Sweeney said.
“It really is kind of like an athletic musical,” stated Jenson.