SMMHS bands excelling

photo Alyssa Hobbs, left, and Stella Strength practice with the middle school band.

The band program at Signal Mountain Middle-High School has been doing especially well this year, according to middle school band leader Drew Buckner and high school band leader Shelby Walker.

The middle and high school bands had 31 students accepted to All-County Band, and the high school band recently had six students chosen for All-East Honor Band. Most schools only have two or three students participate, said Walker.

In marching season, the high school band's drum majors received first place in the Field Commanders category in the Tennessee Division II State Marching Band Competition. The band placed seventh overall out of 25 bands, and the soloists in the high school band received second place in the state for their performance.

The high school band recently performed the pregame national anthem and during the halftime show at the Chick-fil-A Bowl in a mass band performance in front of a sell-out crowd of 73,000. The group also competed in the concert band competition connected to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, receiving the only gold rating and placing first overall in its division, beating 14 bands from 13 different states, said Walker.

"It was a lot of fun," he said. "The kids had a great time."

The band also competed in the Chick-fil-A Bowl Parade, where the group received the Grand Champion Overall designation.

The seventh- and eighth-grade band members were also selected to perform in Disney World March 26.

The high school band received straight "superior" ratings at the recent East Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association Concert Festival Competition for the second year in a row.

"It's not easy to get," Walker said of the superior rating.

The middle school band started two new programs this year, a jazz band and a chamber ensemble that play fun tunes such as pop songs or songs from movie soundtracks, said Buckner.

"I believe getting them into smaller groups helps them become independent musicians," he said. "You can't hide behind other musicians and have to play your own part."