There’s no place like home

Marching band field show coming to a stadium near you

By Manya Girivasan and Veronica Zhao

The sun beats down relentlessly on the burning turf.  “Reset!” John Burn calls from the press box. For a second, chaos erupts on the field, as band members scramble into a different formation. The drum majors call the ensemble to attention from their podiums, and they begin yet another repetition of the same section. Most students are trying to beat the heat this Saturday afternoon, staying in air conditioned homes or watching TV. However, the band has been at it for six hours already, and they still have many more to go. 

 

The Concept

The band recruits persist through the scalding heat to produce the completed 2022 field show: “There’s No Place Like Home.” Based on “The Wizard of Oz,” the show was originally meant to be called “There’s no place like Home(stead).”

“That [name] sounds kind of pretentious,” Director of Bands John Burn said. “So we just said ‘There’s No Place Like Home’, and we’ll leave the ‘stead’ unsaid.”

Perseverance, Endurance, Fulfillment; Marching Band works long hours to create new field show
(Photo by Veronica Zhao)

However, both names are important to the symbolism of this year’s theme. In a way, it leads to the silver lining of the shutdown when everyone had the chance to spend more time with their families and realize there is no place like home, Burn said. 

But home doesn’t always have to be where you live, or with your biological family. Like the original name suggests,  home can also be coming back to HHS after being away for so long, Burn said. 

And so, the process of creating the show began. Music was written, including small “Easter Eggs” from the original musical scattered throughout. However, Burn said it was important to the creators to not have an exact retelling of the original story, but rather to make their own rendition of the classic. The performance begins with the notorious tornado, and includes character studies of the Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, and the Tin Man. The music depicts the qualities of each character; intelligent and intricate music for the Scarecrow, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” as a courageous ballad for the Cowardly Lion and a heartfelt percussion solo for the Tin Man. The show concludes with a piece called “Emerald City.” 

“Even though the Wizard of Oz is really about leaving the Land of Oz, and ‘there’s no place like home’, we say the Emerald City is Homestead High School,” Burn said. “We’re green, so there’s no place like this wonderful green spirited happy place.” 

After music is written for the winds and percussion, the concept is sent to drill designers who write the visual aspects of the show, explained Burn. Details are added throughout the season, up to the very last show, including special effects and choreography for the band and colorguard. However, at this point, it’s time for the students to bring the show to life. 

 

Echoes of the Members

The captivating theme “There’s No Place Like Home” has also taken the attention of fellow band members, including senior Ayaka Fujita. She represents the band as a co-head drum major and a saxophone soloist.

“I’m pretty excited,” Fujita said. “This show has a lot of tempo changes. Conducting wise, we added in a lot of little special effects.” 

Fujita is not the only one to appreciate this year’s theme. Sophomore Toma Kanagy, a bass clarinet student leader, said he thinks the design has improved much more from previous shows. However, band members  are only a portion of the crew, and the color guard has made their entrance in this season with their themed flags and striking dances. Junior Sophia Ward, a member of the HHS color guard, said performing with the band and hearing the music for the first time excites her the most. 

“Since we practice on the side fields,  we don’t get to hear what [the band] is playing until [they’re] doing a full ensemble.” Ward said. “Once the two of us gather to practice, it’s cool to see how the show is progressing.”  

 

Aspirations

The band members themselves also have a handful of personal aspirations they would like to achieve. While some are focused on beating a specific rival school, others have more general goals for the entire band. Senior George Heller, a co-head drum major, said he has the intention of setting band members up for success.

“There’s nothing we can do if they aren’t the ones that are taking initiative,” Heller said. “It’s more about giving people the potential to do well, rather than actually forcing it.”

 Seniors like Fujita also have aspirations for their final season, before they carry their past marching band experiences to a future college. 

“I want our band to finish with no regrets,” Fujita said. “So after this season, I hope we’re not like ‘we could have worked harder.’ I hope we give it our all.” 

Every aspect of “There’s No Place Like Home” has been crafted meticulously for the Mighty Mustang Marching Band. However, writing music and visuals is obviously only half the process of creating a field show. 

“My favorite part is when it’s out of our hands, and in the students’ hands,” said Burn. “I don’t make any noise. I’m not a performer. It’s the students that perform the show. When the show starts, I like to go sit in the back row of the audience and just take it all in.”