By Don Lowe
The Seneca High School Marching Band has marched its way to tremendous success throughout the 2023 fall season and capped things off impressively with a Missouri State Marching Association (MSMA) Class 3A state championship, as well as Best Music in the state in its classification.
First-Year SHS Band Director Tyler Jones, who has been with the district for six years, says, “We were one of five first-ever state finalist bands.”
It takes a great deal of work in advance of prime-time performances and Jones relates, “There is a lot that goes into preparing for a marching festival. There’s hours and hours of work.
“We have two full weeks of band camp in the summer, then we have two evening practices each week, as well as our normal class time. The kids put in about nine hours a week of practices preparing for our show.”
Jones notes, “One of the most important aspects to putting the product together is having a common goal that everyone is working towards. The common goal this year was ‘better every run.’ We wanted each run to be our best.
“The common goal was important throughout our season. We have a great group of student leaders that help drive that home and we have a lot of young talent that soaked up everything we put together and did this year.”
It’s not easy getting everything just right, but Jones says, “The most challenging part is also the most fun part, and that’s the competition.
“We never go out and try to beat anyone but ourselves. We want to be better than the last run of our show. We want all the bands around us to compete and play at a high level. It only makes it that much more fun and challenging when we’re all pushing each other.”
It’s all about getting every little detail just right. “When one kid is marching and playing, we’re asking them to march, play, stay in step, keep good marching technique, take equal steps into the next spot, be aware of surroundings, play in tune and tone, play the right note, and play the right articulation and dynamic,” he says.
“That’s just for one note of the show. Multiply that by 200 for the number of notes in the show. You could argue each kid has more than 2,500 opportunities to make a mistake. We’re asking them to be as close to perfect as possible on all those tasks. We’re asking a lot of those kids, and they did a great job.
“There are so many reasons to be proud. We have the best kids. We have a great group of leaders that are invested in our program and want to see us succeed. This year has been awesome for our kids. They were resilient all year.
“The community we have here in Seneca is fantastic. The support for our kids has been overwhelming at times and I love that for the kids. They have earned everything and deserve all the recognition they’ve received.”
Seneca Senior High School Band Fast Facts
Band Leadership Team: First-year Director Tyler Jones, Assistant Director Joseph Fry, Color Guard Instructor Tyson Stevenson and Percussion Instructor Cameron Jones
Number of Band Members: 79
Instruments: Flute, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Alto Tenor and Bari Saxophone, Trumpet, Mellophone, Trombone, Baritone, Sousaphone/Tuba and Percussion
Performances: All home football games, as well as taking drumline/band to away games whenever possible. There are four marching competitions and three to four jazz festivals with two jazz bands. Host five concerts throughout the year. Jazz band plays at most home basketball games.
Pride of the Ozarks Marching Festival – First place in Class A (Outstanding Music & Outstanding General Effects in Prelims). Eighth place in Finals.
Valhalla Marching Festival – Third place Class C (Outstanding Winds in Prelims). Ninth place in Finals.
Ozarko Marching Festival – Second White Division (Best Music, Percussion & General Effects in Prelims). Second place in Finals (Best Music).