Keller Citizen

High school marching bands compete for a chance to go to state

Amanda Bernardi, left, Julian Buzbee and Aileen Cnho play during the Keller High marching band’s performance of “Ascend.”
Amanda Bernardi, left, Julian Buzbee and Aileen Cnho play during the Keller High marching band’s performance of “Ascend.” Special to the Star-Telegram

Keller High School’s Indian Band finished first at the Area B Marching Contest Saturday and punched a ticket to the 6A State UIL Marching Band Contest Nov. 8-9 in San Antonio.

Keller, Timber Creek High School and Keller Central High School all advanced to the finals by placing in the top ten bands out of 25 competing at Pennington Field. The Timber Creek Falcon Band placed sixth and will be an alternate to state. The Keller Central band was tenth. Other bands advancing from Area B are Duncanville, L.D. Bell, Coppell and Plano East.

The Panther Regiment from Fossil Ridge High School was 13th and the Carroll Dragon Band placed 15th.

Standing out in North Texas, a region known for exceptionally strong marching bands, requires preparation and lots of practice, band directors and members said.

Bands have a chance to compete at the UIL state contest every other year, with 6A and 4A competing this year. For Keller High, this is the sixth consecutive trip to the championship. In 2014, the Indian Band placed tenth out of the top 37 bands from the largest schools in Texas.

For Keller High, creating a whole package is key to developing a show that stands out among the best, band director Mark McGahey said. This year’s show, “Ascend,” took on an ethereal quality with images of clouds and ladders, and with members of the color guard outfitted in sky-blue dresses.

“You have to find your identity, your signature, the best version of who you are,” McGahey said. “And then you have to make it visually appealing.”

Keller senior Sarah Albrecht, 18, who plays the clarinet, said the show title became an accurate description for the band’s own journey this year.

“We have come a long way from when we first started,” Albrecht said. “We had to work hard, build a name for ourselves and come together as a family.”

Carroll student Austin Woolsey, 17, said a good performance should be fun to watch, an idea his fellow band mates remember during each show.

“If people are singing the melody after the show, then it was a good show,” said Woolsey, who plays the trombone and is band president.

Carroll, which begins designing a piece a full year in advance, performed “Contact,” a show that told the story of Earth receiving signals from space.

Staff Writer Sandra Engelland contributed to this report.