In a part of the nation where athletes and athletics sometimes seem to be the most important people and events in high school, it's refreshing to note that isn't always the case. There are students who excel in academics and have the grades, ACT and SAT test scores and college scholarships to prove their prowess. There also are students who participate in other school-related activities at levels that win recognition for them, for their instructors and for their institutions. The young men and women who perform in area high school bands are a fine example.
Many individuals take high school bands and their members for granted -- if they think about them at all. They might appreciate half-time shows at football games, spirit bands at other sports events and the occasional in-school or evening concerts, but otherwise rarely acknowledge the skill, talent and the work ethic displayed by most high school musicians.
For some area bands and musicians, those attributes are on public display more often than others. Bands representing Ringgold High, Ooltewah High and Walker Valley High have or will appear in high-profile, widely publicized parades in coming weeks. The Heritage High School Wind Ensemble will perform at a nationally recognized honor band clinic early in the coming year. And a senior tuba player from Ringgold High will perform with the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band on Jan. 5.
The Ringgold band marched in the New York City Veterans Day Parade yesterday. The Ooltewah Band will perform in the McDonald's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Nov. 22. The Walker Valley Band will travel to London for that city's New Year's Day Parade. Such trips require an invitation from a host organization and as such are recognition of musicianship and performance that are the hallmarks of top-flight bands.
The same is true for the Heritage Wind Ensemble that will perform at the honor clinic and for Asa Albritton, the young man who will represent Ringgold and the area in the All-American Band that will perform in San Antonio, Texas. Participation at the clinic and inclusion in the Army band are highly coveted and recognition of exceptional talent.
Members of high school bands, prep musicians and their instructors, like athletes and coaches, universally agree that it would be difficult to learn and to perform at high levels without proper teaching, excellent coaching and parental support. Like athletic associations, band and music booster clubs work long and hard to provide essentials to their own and to other children.
Recognition of the sort that allows area marching bands and performers to appear in major cities of the nation and in Walker Valley's case, the world, is a tribute to both students and to those who nurture, promote and support by various means high school music programs and the musicians in them.