Band family bonds lead to successful season

Marlena Sloss/The Herald
The Southridge Marching Raider Band plays at halftime of Friday’s football game in Huntingburg. The group performed its roughly four-minute show at home Raider football games this season, and it also played at a Dubois County showcase in Jasper and at a community performance in Huntingburg.


No awards, contests or state finals trip. Nearly a week after the Southridge Marching Raider Band’s 2020 season came to an end, however, members reflected Wednesday on something that the coronavirus pandemic did not take away. The group’s family spirit.

“Our band family is key for a successful season,” said Jose Nunez, a senior trumpet player in the group. “It’s not only for those trophies. Trophies, they mean something. But not as much as the family or friends you make on your ride in your marching band season.”

Lannie Butler, the band’s longtime director, rattled off the season’s COVID-19-prompted changes in list form. Modified summer rehearsals. A show designed to account for social distancing. No chance at a championship. Practice disruptions prompted by students in quarantine.

Still, even with all those obstacles, the group still pushed through and pieced together a meaningful year.

“Despite not having any competitions, it was kind of like we wanted to do something and still offer a marching band experience of some kind,” Butler said. “Where the kids could still get the skills and continue to improve that. Have an opportunity to play music and work on the basic marching skills, and all the things that go along with that, and all the education that goes with that. We didn’t want to lose that.”

He later said that taking a full year off would make coming back full force next season a challenge. So, the band performed its roughly four-minute show at home Raider football games this season, and it also played at a Dubois County showcase in Jasper and at a community performance in Huntingburg.

“Music doesn’t stop just because we’re in a pandemic,” Butler said. “Matter of fact, everybody’s using it more and more. [There’s] certainly a lot of talk about social-emotional learning and ways to express and help people. And they need it. We need it. Everybody needs it.”

Named “A Portrait of Immortal Love,” Butler described the routine as “somewhat of a Romeo and Juliet theme type show,” with music written by both Tchaikovsky and Butler. The simplified production will be revisited in 2021 in a rewritten and evolved form.

Sophomore Lindsay Echeverria served as one of the band’s leaders. The group did not have a student drum major this season — adult leadership filled that role — but Lindsay was responsible for leading fundamental exercises, warmups and more. She made it a point to motivate the kids through theme days, songs and conversations with new marchers.

“I’m someone who likes to see the positive side of things,” said Lindsay, who played the baritone in the band. “So I try to be optimistic. Especially around newer freshmen. Because first of all, marching band is just odd to them. And especially doing marching in the middle of a pandemic — that’s just more odd.”

Kenzie Robey, a junior who played clarinet with the group, was also a leader in this year’s group. She, too, made it a point to ensure the kids had positive experiences and treated each other nicely. She knows that band can serve as an escape for the students who participate in the activity. The activity makes her life better.

“I find it as something that I can always go to after school or first period in the morning to have fun and to smile throughout the day,” she said of the school’s band program. “It’s what really makes me feel loved because we’re like a big family.”

Jose said he believed that being a part of this year’s band season was “like a blessing.” During it, he created better connections with his peers and fueled momentum that will guide the Marching Raiders into 2021.

“I feel like I did, giving those younger underclassmen some hope about what’s to come in the future seasons,” he said of the drive he left with returning members. “Giving them something to look up to. Giving some of my memories, so they can make whole new memories for themselves.”

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