There were only a few days until the next concert, and the Glacier High School band was getting ready, working its way through a complicated, fast-paced piece of music.
“OK, I’ve got to get something off my chest,” David Barr, band director and music teacher at GHS, said. “I’ve been thinking this for a while. Trumpets — don’t let it slow down in that section. You start with the right speed, then it slows.”
To the untrained ear, the piece sounded like it had gone off without a hitch, but this band and its members are detail oriented and ready to fix tiny imperfections to create something magical.
It’s in this spirit of passion and exuberance that the Glacier High School marching band hopes to raise enough money to attend and play in the 2019 National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C.
Montana Sen. Steve Daines nominated the Glacier High marching band for the honor of appearing in the parade, where they will be featured alongside bands from all 50 states on May 27. The American Veterans Center and Music Celebrations International are hosting the parade.
The parade will also commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, which takes place on June 6.
“It’s a huge honor,” Barr said. “I can’t wait for these kids who haven’t been to D.C. before to experience their Capitol. We talk a lot about patriotism and the music behind that, and that goes with this parade.”
Among the educational sightseeing opportunities for the students will be a tour of Arlington National Cemetery with the students’ participation in a special U.S. military wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
While they’ve got the chops to be there, getting to D.C. will take work. The cost of this trip for each student is $1,600, including airfare, bus transportation in D.C., hotels, meals, and activities. Barr said he couldn’t expect his students’ parents to foot the full $1,600 bill, so each of the 90-plus band members are responsible for $750. Parents and students hope to make up the remaining balance of $70,000 through fundraising.
So far, fundraising efforts include a specially labeled Montana Coffee Traders coffee, and potentially a musical gala dinner at the Flathead County Fairgrounds. Barr said the community should keep an eye on the band’s Facebook page for updated event information and an online donation page.
Already, the band members have sold fruit and raffle tickets for a truck.
“Anyone who donates to us, I feel honored that they would spend money on our students,” Barr said.
Senior Evan Kohler, 18, said he was thrilled at the idea of rounding out his music career playing the tuba at Glacier with such a trip.
“I’ve always been involved in band, and we went to Salt Lake City, and then Seattle,” Kohler said. “Now we could go more than 15 hours away to perform on the national stage.”
“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” said fellow senior and trumpet player Haily Brown.
Both students have played in a school band for seven years and love it for the simple reason that it lets them express themselves in a way nothing else can.
“I love that it’s something different every day,” Kohler said. “There is so much you can do with music, and no matter what you do, you can always get better.”
“It’s a way to speak without saying anything,” Brown, 18, said.
As they made their way through the difficult musical piece preparing for the concert, the band worked in concert, a few dozen knees bobbing to the same rhythm and expecting the best of one another.
“Hey, that was a really good rehearsal,” Barr told his band as they got moving to the next period.
Donations can be sent to Glacier High School, c/o David Barr, 375 Wolfpack Way, Kalispell, 59901.