Success is a tune that high school students enjoy singing – at least at Dexter High School. The Dexter High School marching band has marched to some impressive accomplishments over the past few years, and the turnout for this coming season has reached peak levels.
Does more success equal greater interest?
Longtime band director Kenneth Moore thinks it does.
“We have 201 students in marching band this coming year,” said Moore. “And that’s a high for us. We’ve been increasing the past few years. We were averaging 180 to 185 for several years and then last year we jumped up to 191 and now this year it’s 201.”
The reasons for the increased turnout relates in part to the increase in success.
“We’ve been successful the past few years and the students find marching band to be enjoyable and they want to be part of something that they see as successful,” he said. “They also feel like they have a vital part in leading.”
And that’s been part of Moore’s philosophy since he took over the band program.
He wants the students to be the leaders.
“That’s one of the things I’ve been most proud of is that our band is truly student-led,” he said. “We have three student drum leaders and 40 rank and squad leaders who are each in charge of a group of four students and we count on these student leaders to do a lot of the teaching and helping the younger members get acclimated to band and to high school.
“A lot of the kids stick it out because they enjoy it. Our marching band here in Dexter is like a family and we’ve been pretty successful with that formula.”
Every four years the Dexter HS marching band performs at Disney World in Orlando and will be heading south again in the spring. Two years ago the school’s concert band was invited to perform at the State Music Conference and last year the concert band took first place at a festival in Nashville, Tenn.
“We’ve been on kind of a nice roll,” Moore said.
Moore’s student-led philosophy even carries over to the music performed by the marching band.
“For the marching band, we will start planning for the upcoming season in the early spring and I will start asking students for ideas either about a show theme or music they would like to perform,” Moore said. “From these ideas we go out and try to find marching band arrangements for these songs. Once we find some good, solid arrangements we will build a show around that.”
This year’s marching band show theme is “vinyl,” as in vinyl records and will be a tribute to 1970s classic rock and roll. Yes, something good did come out of the seventies. The Dexter turntable will spin some Who, Kansas, Aerosmith and Queen.
The band program at Dexter High School consists of three bands: Varsity Band, Concert Band and Symphonic Band. These classes meet every day and rehearse separately and they have their own set of music they rehearse and perform as separate bands.
From July until October the focus is on marching band music. In mid-October the focus will switch to indoor concert mode.
These three bands also make up the marching band. The marching band members began pre-camp rehearsals on Monday and will head to a week-long band camp on Sunday at Hillsdale College.
The marching band performs at every home football game and also will participate this year at the Chelsea Marching Band Invite (Sept. 23) with as many as 15 other bands where they will receive feedback from college-level judging. The District Marching Band Festival is Oct. 4 at John Glenn High School where bands receive a letter-grade evaluation.
Moore has been the director of bands at Dexter High School for the past 18 years and before that taught in Dundee and in Illinois. The Wyandotte native has two degrees from Eastern Michigan University and a doctorate from Boston University.
“I’m just very proud of our band students,” Moore said. “Many are among the top academic students in the school and many take challenging courses. We also have some who not only spend time in the marching band but play a sport as well. These kids really have to be organized to make it all work and they do such a great job.
“They are pretty incredible kids.”
The 2015-16 drum majors are Michelle Hoang, Jake Nevin and Alex Schwartz.
The rank leaders are Zach Barnes, Lucas Bell, Regan Corum, Caroline Darr, Ben Elliot, Alex Everdeen, Emily Driscoll, Nick Grant, Joy Hook, Kevin Kimmel, Jasmine Koback, Jordan McGinnis, Ali McLean, Ben Ramey, Randall Schliebe, Alex Sikora, Sofia Sokansanj, Kristine Westman, Kaylee Witte and Reed Yalisove.
The squad leaders are Duncan Babe, Griffen Beck, Nathaniel Burrell, Billy Chesbrough, Cassy Christy, Emma Collins, Madison DeLacy, Chris Eakin, Louisa Judge, Riley Kremkus, Amy Larkin, Sam Latshaw, Madalyn Palmer, Jon Preuth, Vedhika Raghunathan, Claire Richarson, Olivia Seta, Nate Shay, Jack Shelley, Travis Spuller, Meagan Uren and Brannon Weigers.
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Below is a gallery of photos taken by Robert Bowden Photography during the previous school year. Photos included throughout the above article were also included in Robert’s submission.