Bands encounter a variety of challenges while traveling

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, December 3, 2019

A high school band’s perfect performance while on the road is preceded by hours, sometimes days of preparation to get all of the necessary equipment in place to travel.

For Poplarville, Pearl River Central and Picayune, the bands travel with the football team to away games, while also traveling throughout the state for a variety of competitions.

To the unknowing bystander the amount of work that’s required for a band to travel and perform their halftime show may come as a surprise.

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Paperwork, acquiring buses for transportation, packing instruments and props, finding drivers for the buses and a variety of other challenges face bands as they take to the road.

Each school’s band has unique difficulties, but the fact of the matter remains much is required of a band in order for its halftime show to travel.

Depending on the program, the loading of trailers with equipment may even start the day before the actual trip. Picayune Band Director John Cockrell says his program makes due with what it has.

“I think it is what it is, we have what we have and make it work. We have what’s best for us and we make it work,” Cockrell said.

At the end of a night of traveling, the trailers carrying the various equipment and props may need to be unloaded the same night due to inclement weather or other factors.

Cockrell said when his band traveled for this year’s state competition he and the students were unloading equipment in the band hall until 4 a.m.

Paperwork is another necessary hurdle for band directors to deal with prior to an away game or performance.

Poplarville’s Band Director Josh Tidwell said the amount of paperwork required to get a trip approved is substantial and has to be turned in far before the date of the trip.

“The paperwork has to be turned in 10 days in advance and it’s always a grind,” Tidwell said.

However, there are tricks and systems the directors can use to try and expedite the process when possible.

Cockrell has a set of sponsors and parents who help with the unloading and loading of the trailers in order to keep everyone organized. PRC’s Band Director Kelcey Becnel uses student leadership to make sure the equipment makes it into the appropriate trailer prior to the band leaving.

“We normally run though rehearsal then load on Friday. I have student leadership that I have trained to be loading crew and it’s their responsibility to take account of the instruments,” Becnel said.

There can be certain situations during away football games where the band doesn’t get to perform its whole show, or doesn’t perform at all. However, the necessary arrangements must be made each week during the season, so the band can be prepared for a game or competition that requires travel.

While the concert competitions that take place during the second semester represent their own set of challenges, it won’t require any of the directors to stay in the band hall until the early hours of the morning unloading one of the multiple trailers required during a marching competition.

This work behind the scenes may not be known by the majority of onlookers watching a halftime show, but countless hours were spent in order to deliver a quality performance for the fans.