The Flying Falcon Marching Band stepped onto the spongy artificial turf at the Pisgah Papertown Tournament of Bands apprehensive about their performance. The weather was bitterly cold and the wind whipped against their faces on the late October Saturday.
The drumbeat echoed throughout the concrete stands. The band slowly took their places into the scatter formation. The strains of a chord formed and the marching band began.
Later that night the senior members of the band once again stood out on the turf waiting for the award ceremony to begin. They patiently waited through the A and AA classes for the moment of truth. Would it turn out like North Henderson, with a bitter loss? Or would the band once again reign victorious as they did at Enka? The announcer began reading the awards.
“First place color guard goes to… West Henderson,” the announcer declared. The tempo was set for the rest of the night. At last the band awaited what they had been looking for; the grand champion award.
“The grand champion of classes A, AA, and AAA is…West Henderson.”
The cheers rang through the night.
“It’s been a tremendous group of students,” band director Allen Klaes said. “(They are) a very mature group that has taken ownership of their own performance, a group who plays very well handles themselves really well in rehearsal and performances but also handles themselves really well outside of performances; at football games, watching other bands play at band competitions. Everything they do has been outstanding.”
This fall the marching band’s halftime show was based on the music of the Beatles, featuring “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “The End,” “Hello, Goodbye,” “A Day in the Life” and “Golden Slumbers.”
“I wanted this year’s show to be a lesson for the kids and the audience. We based it off of Beatles songs and used it to tell the life story. We ended the show with the couplet from the very last Beatles song they ever recorded, ‘The End’ which says ‘In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make. We started and ended the show in the same way because we wanted to contemplate the cyclical nature of life — not that we are reincarnated — but what you leave behind after we are gone maybe you just moved away or graduated not necessarily died goes on to the people around you and keeps going,” Klaes said. “We wanted that to be our message, that everyone leaves a positive influence and a positive trail behind them.”
The band has experienced mixed success this year with their show. At Enka’s Land of the Sky Marching Contest the band received first place in class A, first place drum major, first drum major, first place music, and second place drumline.
The band then went on to win the John Lackey Sweepstakes Grand Champion award for classes A, AA and AAA. The band then competed at North Henderson’s Knight Tournament of Bands where they received second place in class AAA, second place drum major, second place music and second place drumline.
After the loss at North Henderson, the band competed at the Pisgah Papertown Tournament where the band received first place color guard, first place drum major, first place music, second place drumline, first place in class AAA, and the class A, AA, and AAA grand champion award.
The band was able to achieve this despite a dramatic decrease in practice time. From last year the band went from eleven and a half hours of practice time per week to only five hours. The band also experienced a large demographic shift.
“We had a lot of young players (this year). About half the band had never been on the marching band before, and this is an activity where experience really counts,” Klaes said. “I will give all the credit to the upperclassmen who are experienced and who helped out the new folks, and made sure that they got the information and the extra help they needed and got those new folks oriented to perform and play well and making sure that they were taken care of outside of practice.”
The band also experienced a lot of individual success this fall. Senior drum major Mollie Jones was named the 2014 homecoming queen in addition to earning two first place awards for her leadership of the band. Senior Will Hinchliffe was also named a Army All-American Bowl member.
“I was pretty stoked, it was awesome. It was something I put a lot of hard work into and to just finally get that was really incredible,” Hinchliffe said. “I was getting dressed for work, and I checked it one last time before I left. I was asking people at work if I could borrow their phone to call my mom and tell her the good news.”
Klaes said he is proud of the band.
“Every year I’m really impressed with the high level of achievement that the students get, how fast they get good, how they improve every practice, and how much better they look week to week,” Klaes said. “They may not notice it, but if they were to sit down and watch the videos each week, they would see a tremendous improvement from the beginning of the year all the way to the end of the year. That’s a big testament to their work ethic, that they don’t get bogged down halfway through, and they’re never OK with mediocre. They’re always wanting to get better.”
By: Ari Sen