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Marching Royals Command Competition

By: Lindsay Pugh

It’s a little after three in the afternoon, and the Marching Royals are running through their first number. “Come on, guys!” Michael Warnock, band sponsor, yells at his 55 Marching Royals.  “Did you hear those tempo rips? Let’s do it again.” The entire band reverses back to their former positions at the start of the song and waits for drum major Ashley Bishop to signal for them to begin.

Bishop has been taking band classes since middle school.

“I joined without knowing what marching band is,” said Bishop who joined the Marching  Royals in 2011 as a freshman. “I found out, and I love it. It’s a huge part of my life. I don’t know where I’d be without band.”

Her responsibilities as drum major include not only having a thorough understanding of her own music and marching, but to keep the rest of the band on the right track as well.

Ashley Bishop, drum major, conducts the Marching Royals at the half-time show Sept. 13. Photo by Debra Thomas.
Ashley Bishop, drum major, conducts the Marching Royals at the half-time show Sept. 13. Photo by Debra Thomas.

The Marching Royals began to prepare for their marching season in August. Band camp ran from Aug. 12 to Aug. 26. Initially, the band began at eight AM and practiced until four in the afternoon. In the last week, they were granted a slight reprieve from long practices and started at one in the afternoon.

Once school began, the Royals began their new schedule of practices Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday afternoons from three to five.

“It all boils down to practice,” Warnock said. “Every year our practice habits get better.”

This year, the band’s set list is focused on The Beach Boys. They are performing the songs, “Fun, Fun, Fun”, “In My Room”, “Help Me, Rhonda”, and “I Get Around”.

Senior Emily Elmore joined marching band her sophomore year. She became section leader of the winds last year, which she believes is her greatest accomplishment in band to date. Elmore switched to playing marimba this year.

“It takes willpower, practice and the ability to be imperfect to be successful in band,” Elmore said. “You’ve got to realize you’ll make mistakes no matter what, and accept you won’t be perfect.”

Because her instrument is so large and belongs to the band department, Elmore can only practice during her spare moments.

“Before I perform at competition, I am part very nervous, part proud to make it this far, and anxious to see how it all turns out,” Elmore said.

Elmore initially joined band because she felt it would be a fun and interesting activity. Her favorite parts of being in band are the football games and the close relationships of the band.

“Everyone is accepted in band; we’re kind of like a big family,” Elmore said. “Band has had a very great impact on my life. I’ve made quite a few friends and improved my clarinet and marimba playing. Band teaches instruments and values for later in life.”

Throughout the year, the Marching Royals participates in multiple marching and concert competitions, community events, football games, school events, and graduation and convocation, as well performing annual winter and spring concerts. The band has marched at Disney World and in New York City as well.

“We’ve won a couple of shiny little trophies- more than a couple,” Warnock said. “We pretty much win awards whenever we go out [to compete].”

In the bands last competition at Hermitage, the Marching Royals placed second over all. They also placed first in two categories.

“Right before competition, I expect myself to feel nervous,” Bishop said. “But when I’m performing, I’m not at all. I’m having fun when I’m up there performing. ”

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