The Signal Corps Marching Band is taking the public on a musical journey to the top of Mount Everest with its fall show.
“We hope they see the ominous and forbidden nature of Mount Everest and the exciting journey of the ascent,” said band director Drew Buckner.
Robust brass melodies, sweeping woodwind lines, and repeated musical rhythms depict the risks and dangers involved with climbing the slope and the victory of finally reaching the summit. Senior band member Keegan Perez describes the music as “powerful!”
Add a field of tents, colorful flags and gliding bodies for visual impact, and you’ve got one of the most challenging and impressive shows our Signal Mountain High School Band has produced. Hopefully, some of you readers have already seen the show performed during half time at Signal Mountain’s home football games. Camping tents are pitched across the field along with flagpoles on which colorful Tibetan prayer flags fly, creating a web of color. Band members shed their outer marching jackets to don colorful climbing vests with Color Guard, band members, and the three drum majors sporting different colors.
“We’re really excited to bring this field setup to the public,” Buckner said. “We believe it’s going to be really unique and memorable.”
The Everest show presents “increasing challenges for our student musicians,” he said, adding they proved early they were up to the test.
Band captain Devin Kodsi attributes part of that success to qualities the leadership team decided to encourage the band to embody: environment; excellence; enthusiasm.
“First, we wanted the band to represent an environment filled with love, respect, and collaboration,” he said. “Next, we wanted to see all members strive for excellence through determination and focus. Finally, we wanted to ensure that everyone has enthusiasm in both their work and play so that no moment is taken for granted.”
The leadership team cleverly named these aspirations the “Three Es”, Kodsi said, because, “we knew that they would help the band progress not only as a unit but as a family.”
Apparently, it worked.
“The kids we have in the Band program this year have created an environment you rarely see in a school group,” Buckner said. “The family and camaraderie that we see from them every day makes it a joy for everyone involved.”
Buckner is assisted in the Marching Band program by associate director Shelby Walker, percussion director Matt Broom, Color Guard director (and SMMHS graduate) Sarah Connally, front ensemble instructor Ian McNeese, visual coordinator/low brass director Kyle Ludwig, and design consultant Tyler Edrington.
Several local musicians also serve as integral guest instructors during band camp and throughout the school year. These include Sam Sencebaugh, Gordon Inman, Jonathan Cathell, Curt Elverd, and David DeMarche.
Rounding out the student leadership team under Kodsi are woodwind captain Hannah Massey, brass captain George Coppel, percussion captain Gracie Bradford, Color Guard captains Camille Schmied and Stella Sherrill, head drum major Siena Rodrigues, and logistics coordinator Ruston Shome. They are joined by several student section leaders.
Buckner said the program was very fortunate this year to have two people associated with Drum Corps International (DCI) design choreography for the Color Guard as well as to write the drill for the Everest production.
“It’s just a huge step up for us,” he said.
Like a sports team, the marching band will continue to practice, evolve, and finesse its program as it prepares for competitions.
This year, Signal Corps will compete in the Bradley Classic at Cleveland, Trojan Classic at Soddy Daisy, a Band of Americas regional competition in Georgia, and, finally, the state championship.
The SMMHS elite marching program was ranked fifth Band Overall at State last year and first in Music. It also won first place in its class at a Bands of America (BOA) Division Championship in Powder Springs, Ga. (BOA is the highest level of band competition in America.)
If you can’t attend a football game, you can still see the fall show. Weather permitting, the marching band will once again provide a community performance before the state championship on November 2.
Signal Corps also marches in regular uniform in the annual Signal Mountain Homecoming parade and provides a mini performance at Alexian Village on the way to an Away football game each fall.
Signal Mountain’s band programs are successful not only because of excellent leadership and dedicated students, but also due to supportive parents and community.
Music Boosters president Angela Kodsi said, “Our directors, students, music boosters, and parent volunteers worked hard this summer to make this a fantastic season.”
As the band considers future competitions, it is seeking more financial support to replace uniforms that have been worn since SMMHS opened its doors. If you would like to contribute toward new uniforms, write checks to the SMMHS Music Boosters and send to P.O. Box 272, Signal Mountain, TN 37377. PayPal or credit card donations also can easily be made on the band’s website at www.signalcorpsbands.com.
Local businesses can also become partners and reap VIP benefits as the band marches to the State title. Learn how by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (423) 322-7615.
“We are so appreciative of our community sponsors and look forward to expanding our networks for sponsorship,” Mrs. Kodsi said.
SMMHS Music Boosters is a 501© 3 non-profit organization. All donations will immediately be acknowledged by letter.
Thanks again for your support of the Signal Corps Marching Band!