Sound the trumpets: High school marching band numbers grow

From left, Tyson Weber, Landon Lunsford, Elizabeth Shepherd, Dylan McBee, Max Rose and Brody Morton take part in an early morning marching band rehearsal last week near Newton High School. In the background between Elizabeth and Dylan are Ashley Groote, Preslee Ellette and Jaymie Turner. Wendy Nugent/Harvey County Now

By Wendy Nugent, Harvey County Now

NEWTON—It was cool enough outside for people to wear a light jacket on Thursday morning as the Newton High School marching band did more “marching” than “band” in their name since they were working on footing and where to go.

One of the students kept time with a drumstick and what appeared to be a wood block walking with other students in various formations to a tune from “Star Wars.”

He was one of 75 Newton High School marching band students out at the old football and soccer field just north of the school building.

NHS band instructor Greg Bergman spoke about the number of kids in band.

“Biggest we’ve had in a few years,” he said.

They didn’t lose many students during the pandemic years but were down to 63-65.

“If they can play, we’ll take them,” he said.

Part of the jump in number could be the number of freshmen in band this year.

“We have 31 freshmen, which is a lot,” he said. “The most we’ve ever had.”

One of those freshmen is Riley Honeycutt, who plays trumpet.

“I think I’ve been playing since fifth grade,” Honeycutt said, adding he likes marching band. “Pretty fun.”

One of his favorite things is playing chants.

“I just like it in general,” he said about marching band.

This year isn’t the first time he’s marched in a band, however, since when he was in the eighth grade, Honeycutt marched in the Chisholm Middle School band.

“There’s this one time we played ‘Cheeseburgers’ with the high school,” he said. “This year, we did the normal stuff and played “Cheeseburgers” with the eighth grade.”

There’s one thing he doesn’t like about marching band.

“I don’t necessarily like the high parts because it’s hard to play,” he said. “I do like pretty much everything else, though. I like doing low parts.”

They just kept getting more band kids, Bergman said, and students get pulled in different areas now that didn’t always exist.

Currently, the band’s largest section is trumpets with 15 with 14 in the flute section.

“Two years ago, we had four flutes,” Bergman said. “It goes in waves. It’s grown the most.”

The theme for the marching band this year is “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Bergman said if a student is in band, that student also is in marching band. Some of the band members are cheerleaders or involved in Railiners or football. Often, the cheerleaders and Railiners will do the halftime show with the marching band.

Five football players are in the band, too.

“Most of them are starters,” Bergman said. “Two of them had touchdowns last week.”

The train performance is different than what they do at the halftime show since they don’t move as much during the halftime show, Bergman said. They do more of a corps-style performance. With the train style, they make a picture and march traditionally.

The band performs the train during pregame and at the end of the halftime show. The “train” moves to make a tunnel for the football team. Bergman said students like to count the number of “choo-choos” they play before the team goes onto the field. That’s when they play “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.”

“Kids count just to entertain themselves,” he said.

The entertainment will return to Newton on Sept. 30, since that’s when the next home game is.

This was an early season for the marching band, since the first two football games were at home. At those games, they just played, but during the Sept. 30 match, they’ll also march.

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