Anne Arundel County

Anne Arundel high school bands perform in exhibition

Arundel High School senior percussionist Alex Musliner readily recalls his last marching band mishap: He dropped a drumstick during a recent performance. Luckily, he carries a spare drumstick for just such an occasion.

His marching band teammate, senior percussionist Trevor Jones, also remembers dropping a drumstick during a recent football game.


"I tried to take one from him," he said, pointing to Musliner. "Then I actually reached down and picked [his own drumstick] up."

The two laugh about the mishaps now, but they say that during a competition they can be humiliating. That's one of the reasons why they look forward to such performances as the annual Anne Arundel County Public Schools' Marching Band Exhibition, which will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14, at their school.


More than 600 musicians from the county's 12 public high schools will perform in the event, which band members at Arundel say is a chance to perform in a relaxed atmosphere without having to worry about miscues.

"With the competition, everyone is so nervous," said Arundel High School sophomore clarinet player Emma Dixon, who recalled a recent performance where a miscue in the band's routine kept her from taking her position between two band members.

"With the exhibition, everyone does what they can," Dixon said, "and they don't have to worry about embarrassing themselves at all."

"You kind of just let go and just play," said Jones.

In keeping with their regular performances, each school's marching band and color guard will have 15 minutes to take the field, set up, perform and exit the field. They're asked to do the same during high school football games, to avoid incurring a penalty for the home team.

Annapolis High School is slated to perform first, and Arundel's band is slated to perform last.

"Marching band provides a friendly atmosphere in which students can develop and grow in musical understanding and enjoyment," said Amy Cohn, Anne Arundel schools' music coordinator. "No one sits on the bench or goes without a part to play. There's a level of dedication from every member of the group, and when it all comes together, it is a moment of success that every member shares."

Ian Burns, Arundel High music director, said that the exhibition puts marching band at center stage and shows that it has elements of some organized sports.


"It's more or less a sport. It's athletic — you're running around on the field, practically — and you're playing an instrument. It's definitely something to be appreciated and to enjoy," Burns added. "I hope that the community buys into it, too. When you actually stop and pay attention to it, people find it pretty entertaining."

Arundel High will be performing "Pirates of the Caribbean," playing music from the Disney film.

"The idea of the choreography of the field and our props and the music paint a short overture of the movie," said Burns. "You get that visual and auditory representation on the field."

Burns said that Northern High School's theme will be "Joyride," playing music from such composers as Rachmaninoff. Severna Park High School's theme, Burns said, is the "Four Freedoms," focusing on freedom of speech, freedom from want, freedom to worship and freedom from fear.

Arundel High's band members say that it takes a while for any school band to gel, and Jones says that often some bands don't do so until the end of the season, "and sometimes not even then, because the marching season is so short for us."

The exhibition gives them a chance to enjoy the process along the way.


"It really shows what marching band is about in our county," said Musliner. "It's a friendly atmosphere, and everyone gets to show what they've done so far."