There are lots of new things for the Wayne County Band members to tackle as they learn a brand new program for their marching season. Considering the new music, new choreography, quarantines around COVID guidelines, a new assistant band director and color guard coach – it was quite an exciting moment to see them pull off their first marching band program during halftime at the Wayne County Football game on September 4th.
With all these variables, their program, “End of the Tunnel” makes perfect sense. The positive theme realistically speaks to the pandemic indicating that there will be light at the end of the tunnel. The message to the young musicians is there is always a ray of hope, no matter what you are going through. The process you go through only makes you stronger.
The music is from a Harry Potter movie titled Deathly Hallows, from Part 2 on the soundtrack.
The program was launched late in the summer, during the first week of band camp. Normally, long hours of rehearsals are held up until the start of school. The first week, the students are learning to march, learning the fundamentals, building visual vocabularies and learning the music to their production. During the second week of camp, the musicians start putting things together outside, learning the program’s choreography. Then they start piecing it together as a whole group.
Unfortunately, there was a small outbreak of COVID during the second week that the band had to work around causing some of the musicians to learn virtually online until they tested negative and could return to school. The band had perfected online learning through a customized program they designed that addressed individual instruction last school year, so they were used to creating a plan B.
“I’ve really enjoyed working with this group,” said Wayne County Band Director Andy Critz. “They are the type of students you can throw things at them and they are doing a great job with it. They are soaking it in….these kids are like sponges soaking up everything we are doing.”
“I think these kids are miles ahead of where they were two years ago,” said Dan Harris, a long time music consultant to the local band program. He works primarily with the brass and all the wind instruments, helping them learn the music at the start of the season.
“Dan is the best in the business,” noted Wayne County Band Director Andy Critz. His experience makes him somewhat of a legend having served as a band director at numerous schools during his impressive career, not to mention being a recently retired string bass musician for the Lexington Philharmonic since 1967. (check out the sidebar story on Dan Harris’ career to learn about his amazing contributions to the field of music)
Critz’ team also includes newly hired Assistant Band Director/ Arts and Humanities Teacher Elsa Dishman. Dishman is a very talented musician who graduated from Wayne County in 2018. She has been attending Campbellsville University and it is a pleasure to welcome her back home to the band program and Wayne County High School. Her specialty is the percussion section. Even though Elsa is small in stature, she was plenty strong enough to move the heavy equipment to the sideline to help students quickly get in place. Her enthusiasm for the program is evident.
Another familiar face during band camp was former 2020 WCHS graduate Halen Pharis who helped with the visual instruction and woodwinds instruction. Halen was another stand out band member having been selected for the All State Band his senior year in high school. He is currently a music education major at Lindsey Wilson College.
Austin Harrington added his talents to the team as a percussion teacher. Austin is a computer science major from Campbellsville University who enjoys participating and teaching music. He teaches with both Marion County Marching Band, as well as Wayne County Marching Band.
Shelby Gregory, a 2021 Color Guard graduate, is coaching the flag members. They brought a lot of visual dance artistry to the program. Gregory is an eight-year member of the local color guard having started on the squad when she was in sixth grade.
The local band’s next performance will be on Saturday, September 11th at Somerset High School when they begin their competition season. That competition will be followed by another on September 18th at North Laurel High School. These events take lots of planning and procession and will be another exciting time for the band since they were unable to compete last school year, due to the pandemic.
Band Halftime Show at football game on September 4th!
Asst. Band Director Elsa Dishman helps set up quickly with a crew of band members and supporters.
(l-r) Brandon Denney, Band Director Andy Critz and Brielee Neal hurry to place instruments on field.
The Color Guard added a choreographed dance element to the program.
Michaela Sexton was one of the Color Guard members performing.
Color Guard members Summer Canseco (front) and Katey Bell (back).
Band performing at halftime
Chloe Kidd plays the keyboard.
Brielee Neal plays the xylophone.
(l-r:) Brandon Denney and Titus Stieber
Representing the brass section (back to front) were: Louis Turner, Ainslee Dolen, Kylee Holt, Colton Gregory, and Dorian Dixon.
Summer Band Camp
Musicians enjoyed a lunch break during band camp
Band Director Andy Critz with a group of musicians this summer, working in small groups.
New Color Guard Coach conducts practices this summer
Color Guard practices fundamentals
(l-r) Color Guard members Summer Canseco, Lacy Spencer, Krystal Rector, Taylor Bensman, and Katey Bell. (Not pictured: Michaela Sexton)
New Color Guard Coach Shelby Gregory with color guard member Katey Bell.
Coach Shelby Gregory assists Krystal Rector and Summer Canseco at a practice.