BROOMFIELD, Colo. (Oct 4)—For six of the last seven years, the marching band from Legacy High School here has won the state championship for marching band in Class 5A, the state’s highest class based on school enrollment. Last year, they just missed a state championship.
Clay Stansberry, shown above leading the band’s pregame performance from the stands, started working as the school’s band director 10 years ago.
For a state championship in Colorado, bands first compete in a “qualifying” event, like a marching band festival. If they receive a high enough score at that festival, they enter into a state tournament with quarterfinals, semifinals, and the championship. In fact, the band can automatically advance to the semis based on the score they receive at the qualifying event.
In 2012, the Legacy band came in second place in the state, scoring only a quarter point, on a 100-point scale, less than Fossil Ridge High School at the state’s Class 5A final. I asked Mr Stansberry what coming in second after six consecutive first-place finishes meant for his band.
“It gives them something to work towards,” he said. “It gives them a goal. We talk in my program a lot about setting goals. We set goals, and sometimes you don’t reach goals—you have to go back and reevaluate what you could have done better and what you’ll do better next time. We talk about those things—it’s a life lesson that they can take with them for the rest of their lives.”
The state championship series is run by the Colorado Bandmasters Association, and the people who serve on the marching band committee are actual band directors. The committee has representation from every class and from every region in the state, Mr Stansberry said.
“It’s that committee of band directors that makes the decisions, and anybody’s free to take anything to the marching committee that they want,” he said. And since it’s their job to make performance decisions that are best for their own students, the committee seems destined to make decisions that are in the best interest of students from all competing bands. “Absolutely,” Mr Stansberry confirmed.
The Legacy High School band will perform their show, entitled “Out of This World” and based on “Mars” from The Planets by Gustav Holst and “Paranoid Android” by Radiohead, this year in the Bands of America super-regional competition at St Louis as well as the Colorado state championship series. BOA is somewhat new for the band and certainly for any of Mr Stansberry’s current students.
“In 2005, we did a regional out in California,” he said. “But we’ve never been to a super-regional, nor have we performed in a dome,” he said.
Travel plans like that require the band to raise some serious cash, and for that, they have a bingo program and additional fundraising by students. Then the school itself provides some additional funding.
It also takes lots of advance planning on the part of directors. For their show this year, directors started working last November to obtain necessary copyright clearances to perform at a videotaped event.
After everything’s done for this year, he said, “we’ll start throwing around ideas, and start going through, and working on stuff again.” Students don’t actually start working on the show on the field until the beginning of August, though. That leaves summertime for a band camp at the high school that two parents told me was “very intense” on account of lasting two weeks and running for eight hours a day.
Mr Stansberry explained that the summer is for working on fundamentals of marching band. “And that’s of our own volition,” he said. “It’s not required, but I do it to keep the kids doing something.”
On Oct 19, Legacy High School in Broomfield, Colo., brings a marching band, state champions six of the last seven years, to a 9:30 AM Bands of America super-regional performance at the Edward Jones Dome, right before Marian Catholic, representing the first time Clay Stansberry’s Lightning has performed in a dome or at a BOA super-regional competition. They will perform in St Louis just days after participating in a state qualifying festival on Wednesday, Oct 16. Although their 5A classification is based strictly on school enrollment, the Colorado Bandmasters Association is discussing a new format for bands in classes 4A and 5A that will base classification in part on the number of musicians on the field, rather than just on school enrollment. According to a preliminary document, the change would encourage more participation in the state championship tournament by bigger schools that have a small marching band.