By Traci Chapman
It was by all measures a season to be proud of, as the Luther High School marching band continued to raise the bar in both achievements and growth.
The Pride of Luther went western with its 2022 marching program, “Across the Prairie.” The 15 instrumental and eight color guard members embraced a theme that brought students’ enthusiasm to the forefront – and provided a glimpse into the future of Luther’s band program, director Travis Miller said.
“We are so proud of everything our students achieved this year – they really put their hearts into it and it showed,” said Miller, Luther band and vocal music director. “We have a great group of kids, and the future really does look bright.”
The Pride’s first competition was the Oolagah Invitational, where the band after preliminary competition received three caption awards – 2nd in 3A for color guard and percussion and a third place 3A drum major honor. While the band didn’t make finals, Miller said he really didn’t expect that due to the contest’s highly competitive field of much larger bands. The competition did serve as a good experience for students and staff alike, as they look to next season, the director said.
“We’ll just have to see next marching season, but I think we’re getting to the point where we can look at other experiences as well,” Miller said.
In its next competition – the Elgin Southwest Showdown – Luther did make finals, making program history. Even before their finals performance, the band took first place in Class 3A White, second place in Class 3A overall and received caption awards for outstanding color guard and outstanding music.
“Making finals at Elgin for the first time was a definite high – and it was the first time making finals at any contest since 2019,” Miller said. “Placing 12th after the changes and growth we’ve seen was a tremendous accomplishment, and we were so proud of the students.”
While the number of instrumental band members stayed relatively static, that was not the case of color guard. During the 2022 season, the Pride had three color guard members; this year, that jumped to eight – in the wake of the district fielding its first-ever winter guard team last season.
Just this week, more than 20 students auditioned for the 2023 winter guard season, which meant the school would compete in the regional class this year.
While upperclassmen remain committed to band and guard, the interest in the program during Miller’s second year as director has skyrocketed, he said.
“Band has grown exponentially at the beginner and middle school level – we have 17 beginning students in 5th grade and 14 in middle school,” Miller said. “We also restarted our elementary music program this year, bringing the importance of music education and fun to 58 new students who wouldn’t have had that experience before.”
That growth has been a sign to Miller, guard coach Katelyn Wilmore and technician Devin Erwin-Acker that the program is moving in the right direction. Another boon was parents’ enthusiasm, which culminated in the formation of the very first Luther Band Booster Club. Julie Walter-Greggs is booster president. More information about the booster club can be found on its Facebook page “Luther Band Booster Club.”
With the end of marching band, concert band began in earnest last week. The winter contest is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5 in the Luther High School auditorium.
For more information about Luther bands and guard, go to https://www.facebook.com/LutherBands/.