Recently, the director of the Broughton High School Marching Band, J.R. Richardson, was informed that his band program would be taking the sought-after journey to the faraway land of Pasadena, California, to participate in the legendary Rose Bowl Parade – the Mecca of parades – on January 2, 2012.
That’s not all: this will be the second time that the Capitals’ band will have appeared in the prestigious parade over the past four years.
This is a very high honor for a school band, and Broughton should be congratulated for its unusual opportunity.
But my question is: when does Leesville get this incredible chance?
Almost anyone who has heard the two organizations perform would realize which is playing the better music – and it’s a wide gap.
For instance, when attending the Capitals’ Homecoming Game (against LRHS), I noticed that not only did the Broughton band not attend or perform during the first half of the game, they also failed to give an effective halftime performance, choosing to stand in lines off the field to play their show instead of marching in the intricate patterns exemplified by the Leesville band’s program.
“Broughton has a terrible band,” one Leesville band student exclaimed enthusiastically. “Yeah, our band kinda sucks,” agreed a Broughton student.
The core issue here, clearly, is the fact that despite the superior talent of the Marching Pride, some factor still separates the two band programs.
“I have noticed that [bands from] other schools haven’t been able to participate in the Rose Bowl over the years,” observed another Broughton student. “I think it’s mainly about money… I’m not sure if they’re any better than [bands from] other local schools either.”
“It definitely sounds like they aren’t getting in for their talent,” said an anonymous member of Leesville’s marching band.
Many who were asked about the difference between the bands noted that the talent and the money weren’t in the same place, and that it was the money headed to Pasadena.
Michael Elderkin, a junior in the marching band, has the unique experience of marching in the Rose Bowl Parade with Broughton as an eighth-grade student (his aunt teaches at NBH). “It’s a great experience – the parade route is over 6 miles long,” he noted, weighing the benefits the parade could offer to the Marching Pride. “It’d bring a lot more publicity.”
Elderkin was also able to recall some of how the Capitals’ band works: “Anyone can be in [their band]; there is no skill requirement. There wasn’t that drive to reach perfection. The Leesville marching band is much more musically and behaviorally mature.”
“It’s more likely the financial cost,” said another Leesville band member vehemently. “I think we’d easily get in. The Rose Bowl bids [seem to be] based less on talent then the prestige of the school.”
Despite the band members’ thoughts on the topic, LRHS band director Mr. Dave Albert offered a different and more significant view of the situation.
“It’s true that if we were to apply, chances are, we’d get in,” Mr. Albert noted, “but you have to let people know you’re willing. We just didn’t apply.”
He proceeded to show me enormous stacks of old newspapers detailing the 2001 LRHS Symphonic Band’s trip to the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, an incredibly prestigious music festival at which Leesville was “the first North Carolina band since 1954” to attend. The appearance brought press attention en masse from the News & Observer as well as national sources. “It’s a matter of musically, financially, ‘can you handle it?’” Albert observed. “Midwest is the true measure.”
Though Albert was “glad they’re going to represent Raleigh,” he was quick to weigh the significance of the Rose Bowl parade against an event more beneficial to the band as a whole than to the individuals involved.
It seems that what’s actually happening is not what it appeared on the surface; Broughton doesn’t have a serious ‘leg-up’ on the Leesville band – they’re simply taking advantage of opportunities in the spotlight, to which the Pride can reply ‘been there, done that’.
Like it or not, Broughton is headed to the Rose Bowl parade yet again – but it’s probably safe to say that maybe it doesn’t really mean anything about the skill or ability of the Marching Pride.