At this point in the season, the Science Hill High School ’Topper Band is marching to a different tune.
The band’s 1970s-inspired show, which includes KC and the Sunshine Band’s “That’s the Way (I Like It),” the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive,” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” has captured the attention of the Friday night football crowd as the band prepares to enter competition season.
Work that began in the summer is now paying off as the band works on perfecting its halftime show and it’s showing off, according to directors Carson Vermillion and Dan McGuire.
“This is probably one of the hardest-working groups we’ve had,” McGuire said of the 156-member marching band.
The band will participate in the Tennessee Valley Showcase at Dobyns-Bennett High School Saturday, competing against marching bands from Tennessee, Georgia and Kentucky.
After this weekend’s competition, the band will be heading to Sullivan Central High School Oct. 20 for the Appalachian Classic, then to Farragut High School in Knoxville Oct. 27, where they will end competition season at the Admirals Cup Invitational.
This year’s show is a bit of a departure for the band after performing more classical shows over the last few years, but it’s a show that has allowed the band to be more engaging with their fans.
“I think the show definitely is a lot more crowd-pleasing than shows we’ve done in the past, not to say that shows we’ve done in the past are bad in any way, but it’s a different kind of thing,” senior horn player Elizabeth Simmons said.
With the band’s first competition only a day away, they are fine-tuning every little nuance of their performance, hoping to better themselves as they prepare to face judges.
That’s the whole point of competition season, according to McGuire.
“The average person on the street is not really going to understand and hear the things that take us from fifth place to first place, but if we stop going to competitions and we didn’t get the feedback anymore to make the band better, they’d start hearing it on Friday night in a year or two,” he said.
Senior Lyndsey Smith, one of the band’s drum majors, said there are a lot of small factors in their performance that if done wrong could mean the difference from fifth and first place.
“Competitions are just so different from Friday night performances. There’s so much more that you think about,” she said.
Through evaluations from competition, the band is able to grow, which makes them a stronger unit, Vermillion said.
“Obviously, we don’t want to be performing our best at the beginning of the season. We want to be performing our best at the end of the season,” he said.
That type of growth has helped create the strong reputation the Science Hill band has.
Simmons and Smith both said they’re happy to be part of a band that is known for its success and they’re also glad to be adding to its already glowing reputation.
“It’s pretty cool to be a part of what’s happening now but also what used to be,” Smith said.
“It’s also pretty cool that we’re in our own way getting to build the reputation of the band. At times that can be nervewracking ... but it’s a very fun thing because we are doing pretty well this year as I see it,” Simmons said.
But when competition season comes to an end, that doesn’t mean the ’Topper band’s marching season is all said and done.
After they compete in Knoxville, the band will begin practicing for The Hollywood Christmas Parade, which will be held in Los Angeles Nov. 27.
Once the marching season has been put to rest, the band will take a short break and then reconvene for concert season, which picks up in the spring.
“I think people tend to think we slow down in the spring, but it’s just as busy. We just aren’t out on the field every Friday night, but we are still really, really busy,” Vermillion said.
For more information about the band, including their upcoming fruit sale fundraiser, visit www.shhstopperband.wikispaces.com or www.shhsbandboosters.org.