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‘Soundtrack for the community’: Marching bands return after a year without competition to Arundel High School today

After almost a year of at-home learning without practice, Arundel High School marching band members have prepared for their first competition since returning to the field.

Ian Burns, band director for Arundel High School, said they are missing the older experience on the team.

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“The older students were able to teach younger ones tips, so they could pass it down, like remembering to bring water or so music binders won’t blow in the wind,” he said.

Burns feels students are more nervous since half of them haven’t performed before. But he said they are “super excited” to perform today at 4 p.m., when Arundel High hosts 19 marching bands for the 2021 Maryland Marching Band Association Wildcat Spectacular competition.

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The showcase will feature the Arundel High School Marching Band, who will perform an exhibition show and compete against nearly two dozen visiting schools from across Maryland.

The Arundel Marching Band under the direction of band director Ian Burns practices Friday afternoon. The Arundel High School Marching Band and Arundel Instrumental Music Association will host their 2021 Maryland Marching Band Association Wildcat Spectacular competition on Saturday, October 16, 2021
The Arundel Marching Band under the direction of band director Ian Burns practices Friday afternoon. The Arundel High School Marching Band and Arundel Instrumental Music Association will host their 2021 Maryland Marching Band Association Wildcat Spectacular competition on Saturday, October 16, 2021 (Paul W. Gillespie/Capital Gazette)

“I am excited to bring all these bands to campus and host a day-long concert, it is a competition but the audience is excited about the music,” Burns said. “I missed the students getting the opportunity to share their music with a crowd that understands what they are going through and how hard music is.”

This is Burns’s 12th competition he has hosted at the school and he felt like it wasn’t a lot of work this time.

“It is a whole-school effort with coordinating with different departments and It is more people than a football game, so have to make sure there is enough parking,” he said. “We flew a drone above the school to map out where everything will go.”

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For the neighbors that live near the high school, Burns can tell they missed hearing the band practice.

“For Arundel High, the band is the school spirit of the fall season, we march down the halls every Friday for football games and whenever a sport is having a big game we do the same,” Burns said. “We are like the soundtrack for the community.”

Typically, during halftime of games, everyone goes to concession stands but at Arundel High School the student section stays put for the band, Burns said.

“The crowd is cheering and going wild and they are more excited than ever after COVID,” Burns added.

Burns does have some surprises for the competition on Saturday with props, sound effects and a fog machine.

“We will be telling a story out there, it is going to feel like a short movie being performed on the football field with all the extras,” Burns said.

Bands from the following high schools will perform:

  • Annapolis Area Christian School
  • Arundel High School
  • Brunswick High School
  • Central Waldorf Marching Band
  • Chesapeake High School
  • Chopticon High School
  • Crofton High School
  • Dulaney High School
  • Glen Burnie High School
  • Kent Island High School
  • Linganore High School
  • Maurice J. McDonough High School
  • Montgomery Blair High School
  • North Point High School
  • Old Mill High School
  • Rockville High School
  • Severna Park High School
  • Tuscarora High School
  • Urbana High School
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