Eureka Springs band marching toward growth

Thursday, December 6, 2018
The Eureka Springs Marching Band entertains at the annual Christmas Parade of Lights Friday, Nov. 30, in downtown Eureka Springs.
Photo by David Bell/Lovely County Citizen

The Eureka Springs Marching Band is finishing 2018 with big news, and even bigger plans for the rest of the school year.

Band director Barry Milner reported last week that the Eureka Springs Fraternal Order of Police donated $500 for new uniforms, something he’s hoped would happen for years now. Milner said the band already had concert uniforms, because the group plays concerts frequently.

“Now we have a set of marching band uniforms for the local marching events we do,” Milner said. “In addition, we just got brand-new instruments. The better the equipment we have, the better performances we have.”

Sophomore Mia Evans said she was excited to debut the new uniforms at the Eureka Springs Christmas Parade of Lights on Friday, Nov. 30.

“It’s pretty exciting, because in the past we’ve seen other bands in the parade,” Evans said, “and they have their uniforms, and they look really nice.”

Sophomore Kyle Plott said it feels like a different experience to march in the new uniforms.

“We’re actually dressed up like other bands,” Plott said. “It’s nice to just look overall professional.”

Wearing the uniforms isn’t the only new thing the band will experience this school year. Milner said he plans to take 15 band students and 15 choir students to Houston during spring break for an enrichment trip. Evans said it’s the first trip of this kind she’s taken with the band, saying she’s excited to learn more about music and perform on the Houston pier.

“For a while, we weren’t actually allowed to go out of state to travel,” Evans said. “Now we are, and the trip is just a way for us to enjoy our time. I’m looking forward to performing and sightseeing.”

Senior Colton Jecker said he believes the trip will be “just plain fun.”

“We’re incorporating a performance down there,” Jecker said. “If anybody wants to, you’re free to travel there and listen to us.”

Plott said he’s happy the band can take a trip like this, saying he’s excited to hear new music. Freshman Daxton Harris agreed.

“I think it’s going to be great,” Harris said. “I’m excited just to hear different types of music.”

Milner said the band has been raising money for the trip. So far, Milner said, the group has raised $22,000 with $5,000 to go.

“If the community wants to donate, we’re still working towards that goal,” Milner said.

The part of the trip she’s most excited about, Evans said, is traveling with her friends in band. Senior Kierra Witcher agreed, saying she’s become more confident through the relationships she’s built in band.

“I’ve grown a lot since I started playing in band,” Witcher said. “I play louder than I did a few years ago.”

“I think we’ve grown a lot together as a band,” Evans said. “A lot of us have been playing together for a while.”

The band has grown and shrank quite a bit over the years, Evans said. Still, Jecker said, it’s much bigger than it was when he joined six years ago.

“There would be a major difference in sound if we had more people. We each have our major skill set on playing,” Jecker said. “It’s really nice to be able to have this small of a band with this good of a sound.”

Sophomore Scott Milam said he loves learning new skills in band.

“I like music, and I like being able to read sheet music,” Milam said. “I think that’s really fun. Playing the difficult pieces at concerts and marching is really fun.”

The band is small, Milam said, but don’t let that fool you.

“We’re a mighty few. We’re all gifted,” Milam said. “I don’t think you need a lot of people to be a good band. We’re just as good as Berryville or Green Forest, and people enjoy seeing us.”

Sophomore Cole Saab said performing is one of his favorite things to do.

“It’s an indescribable feeling,” Saab said. “It’s so satisfying when you nail that one piece.”

“When you’re in front of an audience and you finish playing,” Harris said, “you’re just like, ‘Oh, that sounds right.’ ”

Evans said she’s happy to perform for the community during the holiday season.

“We perform to give back to the community, because of how much they’ve done for us,” Evans said. “They helped us get the uniforms and raise all this money. We’re just giving back because of all they gave us.”

Jecker said he doesn’t quite see it that way.

“I see it as plain giving to the community,” Jecker said. “Music is designed to be played for others. Even if the community wasn’t giving back to us, we’d be playing for them.”

He continued, “Music is healthy for everyone. It’s coming directly from you and about you. Regardless of who you are, it’s impossible to hide yourself in music.”

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