New horizons for band

Sydney Dybing

Over the past summer, seven Liberty band members and I had the opportunity to travel to the East Coast and perform with the Washington All-State High School Marching Band. It was an incredible, once in a lifetime experience, and it opened our eyes to how our band functions compared to others in the Pacific Northwest. We discovered that while the Liberty band performs at home football games, basketball games, and marches in the Salmon Days parade, most schools in the Pacific Northwest do a whole lot more.

In many high schools throughout our region, bands travel to competitions much like high commitment sports teams. Liberty’s band has an entirely different atmosphere – we definitely enjoy what we do, but the effort doesn’t always extend to practicing and perfectionism. We simply aren’t good enough for competitions to be worthwhile uses of our time and resources.

While we have a lot of progress to make, the Liberty band doesn’t lack in advantages: several students this year have actually been arranging songs for us to perform, and as our new band director Jared Tanner puts it, “The school community here is just wonderful. Kids have been so warm to me, to my coming here, and it’s good energy; people want to be here.”

Mr. Tanner has a lot of plans on how to build the band back up after last year’s catastrophe of mysteriously vanishing teachers and eager, but inexperienced substitutes. One of his goals is having more concerts so we can play even bigger varieties of music; another is establishing a culture of musicians who aren’t afraid to make bold mistakes. Additionally, he stresses creating opportunities for students to play alongside great musicians.

“I would like to do trips where you get to go to a college and play with some really great college players,” he said. “I want to create those kinds of trips; maybe go to Boston and see some concerts and work one on one with some great people and have them sit right next to you, even go to UPS or PLU locally; they have great directors and great kids that you can learn a lot from.”

That’s the kind of thing that everyone can get excited about.

It’s obvious that Mr. Tanner will do his part to develop the band program, and make it something that the whole community can be proud of. Everyone appreciates seeing a group from their school winning competitions (such as Liberty’s $10,000 first prize for the 2009 KZOK Battle of the Bands).

Now it’s our turn.

Whether it means showing up to rehearsal on time, practicing your instrument at home, or accepting help from other musicians, it will take a collective group effort to build the band up to an organization we and our school can take great pride in.

Fellow musicians, it’s time to step it up.