Welcome to the BIG Show
story by nick nunn • photos by jesse walker
In the two years since Jeffrey Rowser has taken the reigns as the band director at Morgan County High School, he has initiated some big changes that altered the face (and dress) of the MCHS Marching Band.
Since last year, the band has taken part in three band competitions, two of them took place this year, and, in each competition, the band has earned a rating of "Superior" in each category while ranking highly in the event.
One thing is for sure – it isn’t the same band it was a few years ago.
“The band was not a competitive band,” said Rowser. “I’ve known Mr. Ellis about 15 years, and he just was not into it. And I think there was a little bit of an itch for it to happen.”
“I have always competed,” continued Rowser. “It makes rehearsals more purposeful. They understand why we are out there in that heat: that we are going to have a cool day to perform it at competition and it will pay off.”
“We call competition our payday; when we aren’t doing it just for the team or school spirit. It is about the ‘One Morgan,' the idea of us representing our school.”
Last fall, the band set out to show what it was able to do in a competition setting.
“We went to one competition, and started the new tradition of scoring Superior ratings in all categories: drum line, color guard, drum major, and band – and placing in a higher ranking; usually third or fourth. This year, we have broken into a new level by placing second.”
The trophies from the previous band competitions rest high atop the lockers in the band room as visual reminders for the tradition of excellence that Rowser hopes to begin.
So far this year, the band has competed in two competitions. The first, the “Superbowl of Sound” took place on the first Saturday of October. There, the band earned Superior ratings in the four categories listed above.
In the Class 3A competition, the band, drum major, and drum line ranked second place, and the color guard ranked third.
Two Saturdays ago, Oct. 27, fresh off Homecoming, the band competed in its second and final event of the season, the 2012 Georgia Invitational Band Championship in Hiram.
Again, the band scored well, continuing its streak of earning all Superior ratings. Dylan Jaynes, drum major for the marching band this year, took first place in the drum major category at the competition.
The drum line earned a second place ranking. The color guard and band placed third.
Mr. Rowser attributes the bands’ early successes to the fact that the band faces such tough competition at the events.
“I think the coolest thing about all of this is the intensity that the kids step up and do, having been in that environment and seeing what other bands do. That has taken us past the learning curve very, very fast.”
“We’re a force to be reckoned with.”
Even though the competition season for the marching band is now over, by no means will the band have a chance to sit back and rest on their laurels.
The next big event will be marching in the Atlanta Christmas Parade on Dec. 1. They will also march in Madison’s Christmas parade on Dec. 8.
But the biggest event will be a few weeks after that.
“We accepted an invitation to be a part of the Outback Bowl. We will march in the New Year’s Eve parade in Tampa, and our jazz band will also be there.”
Most of all, Rowser want the kids in the marching band to be able to have a good time, develop the desire to improve their talents, and be able to take something from the arts, even into their later years.
“What I like about the competitions is that the bands cheer for each other – even though we are competing against them – because, in the art form, we know that only one band is going to win the championship, but there are a lot of really fine performances. Hopefully it will carry over into their adult life; they’ll have an appreciation for art.”
But the members of the band aren’t the only ones that need to be shown the lasting beauties of the arts, according to Rowser. The community also needs to be able to see and understand what the band is trying to accomplish.
“I want to promote the kids. With how our society is, the sport thing is going to sustain itself and draw attention. People understand that. We have to educate them on what this band thing is about. So, the more information we can get about what the kids are doing, the more we can gain the support of the community.”
Printed in the November 8, 2012 edition