Playing from the heart

Bulletin courtesy photo by Rachel Simpson

Kaitlyn Buckley was part of the color guard for the Buffalo High Schools, 2018 show “Stonehenge.” The Bison band earned a superior rating for the 12th year in a row for their performance at the state marching competition in Casper.

The black uniforms of the Buffalo High School marching band stood in stark contrast to the snowflakes swirling around them. Within minutes, the back of each uniform was plastered with snow.

Still the 90 members of the band soldiered on, focused only on perfecting their show “Stonehenge.”

That work ethic and dedication, which was displayed a few hours prior to the Wyoming High School Activities Association State Marching Band Competition in Casper on Oct. 13, is a large part of the reason the band continues to be ranked “superior” in the competition year after year, according to band director Jason Bennett.

“They are just great kids, and we finally have this understanding and relationship where they do what I ask them to without asking any questions,” Bennett said. “I had no idea that it was blizzarding as hard as it was when I sent them out to rehearse. But they just did what I asked them to. I think that says a lot about these students. No matter what it takes and no matter how hard it is, they always dig in and do the work.”

That work ethic paid off again this year as the BHS band received a superior rating – the highest honor possible – for the 12th straight year at the state competition. Out of 21 competing teams this year, only 13 received a superior rating.

The BHS band received 783 points this year – up from last year’s 748 points.

Bennett said the judges were impressed with how well the students handled both the complex music and the marching drill.

“The performances are ranked entirely on how well the students perform in their individual shows,” Bennett said. “So there were several schools that performed less of a show than we did and scored higher. But the judges were really impressed with the complexity of our show and how the band performed it really well.”

While the judges were generally complimentary of the show, Bennett said, they did have some “nitpicks” about the performances of individual students in the band – from missing a turn to not being properly spaced.

“That’s just going to happen,” Bennett said. “It’s hard to get all 90 students to fully commit and function as one. But I feel like we did pretty well overall, and the judges obviously agreed.”

With state marching over, the band will move on to other projects, including preparing to perform during the Holiday Bowl in San Francisco on New Year’s Eve. The next months will certainly bring challenges for the band, but Bennett said he is confident his students will continue to give the band their all.

“The best thing the Bison band does that separates them from the rest is that they play from the heart,” Bennett said. “They lay it all out there when they come out to perform. They’re a very emotional bunch of young humans, and they are not afraid to expose themselves and express that emotion through their music. Sometimes, that passion can result in overplaying a little bit, but I would rather have them err on the side of being too passionate. That’s a good problem to have, you know?”

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