Marching Raiders focus on growing as musicians, team

Christine Stephenson/The Herald
The Southridge Marching Raider Band rehearses Thursday evening on the school's football field. After a year of canceled competitions due to COVID-19, the band is back in full swing and preparing for a contest nearly every weekend.

By CHRISTINE STEPHENSON
cstephenson@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG — The students weave in, out and around each other on the Southridge High School football field Tuesday evening, balancing on their tiptoes while making sure to stay in tune. Band Director Lannie Butler stops them mid-melody.

“Remember, we’re working on the music starting softer,” he said. “Say it.”

“Softer,” the students echoed.

“And building.”

“And building.”

“Right,” he said. “Just playing it is no longer enough.”

After a year of canceled contests and adapted performances due to COVID-19, the Southridge Marching Raider Band is back in full swing. The team of about 50 musicians, led by Butler — Mr. B, the students call him — is spending nearly every day working on perfecting their routine, called “Another Portrait of Immortal Love.” It’s a play on “A Portrait of Immortal Love,” the name of the routine they would have performed at competitions last year, if they had happened.

Senior Wyatt Sherer, who plays the trumpet, said he feels like he’s working with an entirely new band, even though there are plenty of returning members from previous years, because it’s been so long since they actually competed. It’s kind of a blessing and a curse, he said — there’s a bigger learning curve than normal, but there’s so much room for new potential, too.

“I feel like these past couple weeks have just been shaking off the rust,” he said.

Like many others, Sherer’s ultimate goal is to help the team get to the state finals. The prospect is especially exciting this year, he said, because it would be the first time for many of his classmates.

Junior Lindsay Echeverria, like many of the seniors, took a leap forward in leadership this year in her first year as drum major.

Of course, Echeverria wants to go to state, too, she said. But she’s mostly just excited to see her classmates grow and improve.

“Even from just our first rehearsal to now is such a huge improvement, and there’s so much time left,” she said.

Even outside of practice, Echeverria feels it’s her responsibility to make the students — especially the underclassmen — feel part of the team, even if just by a simple gesture, such as waving hello in the hallways.

“I think (being drum major) has definitely made me come out of my comfort zone,” she said. “I’m someone who very much likes to stay in the same place, and this has made me branch out, which I love.

Sophomore Abi Byrd, who has been in band since sixth grade, said the camaraderie of the band is something she’ll take with her, even after high school.

“Just being able to walk through the hallways and have inside jokes or handshakes with people that you wouldn’t otherwise know, I love that part,” she said. “Every time we get together, even just in the morning when we have class time and come out here for 20 or 30 minutes, I look forward to all of it. We all have our bad days, but we lift each other up.”

The Marching Raiders will travel Saturday to F.J. Reitz High School in Evansville to compete in the Drill on The Hill invitational. Competition-wise, the goal is always to get to the Indiana State School Music Association’s marching band state finals, where the Raiders would compete in Open Class D. Ultimately, though, getting to state is only part of what the students are working toward.

“In general, our goal every year is just to be our best … and to be better than our last performance or our last practice,” Butler said. “We don’t really set up goals to try to beat other bands, and obviously the trophies and the awards are fun and everything. But we’re here to kind of help them become better people and also, hopefully, improve their music.”




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