Marching band a study in multitasking

Members of the Hermiston High School marching band practice a performance routine on the baseball field on Tuesday.

Marching band takes as much athletic focus as it does musical skill, with students spending hours on the field, memorizing complicated footwork as they play, and competing against other schools.

Last weekend, the Hermiston High School marching band faced off against 22 other schools in the “Cavalcade of Bands” competition in Pasco, which featured schools from Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Hermiston finished 15th, and placed fourth in its division. Hermiston also received an award for “best brass and woodwinds” in their division.

“It was kind of exciting,” said Director Sean McClanahan. “It was the first time in a while that Hermiston has come home with an award. They’ve been working hard and made a lot of improvements in the last year or two.”

McClanahan said the band participates in three or four competitions a year, as well as local performances, such as Homecoming. He said the band has long competed with schools from other states, and was not affected by the district’s decision to start competing against Washington schools.

“It’s kind of its own thing,” he said.

Each year, the band picks a performance theme, which includes a dance routine. This year’s theme is “Wired: The Rise of Artificial Intelligence.”

They start preparing two weeks before school, putting in 12-hour days at band camp, before scaling back to two-hour nightly practices during the school year.

McClanahan has a staff of about nine working with him — including teachers from around the district, and coaches from the Columbians Drum and Bugle Corps, based in Pasco.

Instructors from the Columbians help with choreography and visual design.

“They’ve definitely upped the level — it’s paying off,” said senior clarinet player Megan Baskins, who has been in marching band since she was a freshman.

Baskins said she, and most other marching band students, devote all their free time to music.

“When we’re not here, we’re working, trying to memorize music,” she said. “All of us love music, and we put in all this hard work to get to show others.”

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