By Brandon Martin
Bassett High School’s Band of Distinction recently placed fifth in the Bands of America Grand National Championships, held in Indiana at the Lucas Oil Stadium.
“The band had an excellent performance,” Band Director Trey Harris said. “I always love seeing the students perform on such a big stage. Walking in Lucas Oil Stadium from the warm-up rooms to the actual dome is so exciting to see their faces as they light up. Some from excitement, some maybe a little bit of being overwhelmed by the size of the room. More importantly, watching them handle the moment on this big stage is the best part of the trip.”
The band beguiled the judges at the nationals with the routine that won them a state championship.
“Our show is called ‘Minor Alterations,’” Harris explained. “It is all based off our classical songs that are altered from major keys to minor keys or in the stylistic approach. The visual basis is all on sewing. Needles, spools, fabric, thread, make up our ‘alterations’ approach.”
School officials added that the band includes a Guard, which participates as part of the competition band. As such, they win and lose together as a unit, and awards are presented for the band as a whole.
Following their return home, he explained that the band’s goals couldn’t be boiled down to just one competition.
“We teach each year that this experience is about the journey, not the destination,” he said. “This season was not centered around one performance. It is centered around learning how to be a family, to learn what dedication and commitment really means to a group, to learn how to communicate with peers and adults in the ‘real world,’ and to learn how to push yourself past the limits you think are impossible. The trip just happened to be their last show.”
The band also won their ninth consecutive state championship earlier this month, continuing their almost decade of dominance at the Virginia Marching Band Cooperative state championships in Lynchburg. The band took home awards at the state level for best music, best visual, best general effects and best percussion.
For Harris, the band’s performance in the competitions are vindication for all the hard work his team put in this year.
The national competition “is something that the kids work for all year, and we want to do our best each time we attend nationals,” explained Harris. “It isn’t just something that we do in the fall. We spend all year preparing to play, spin, march, and drum better. It is just like having off season work-outs for a sports team. We began this journey in June at band camp and have spent numerous hours each week preparing and perfecting our show for this moment.”
Harris and his team of mostly 9th-12th graders have been working to be better each day since band camp started in June, Harris said, adding that the band also includes 7th and 8th grade students.
“Winning is always great and is what pushes young people to do their best,” Harris said. “However, it is not the only thing for us. It is about being the best you can be every day. Again, we cannot control the score at these competitions. We can only ask the question, ‘Are we better today than we were yesterday?’”
He added that the band’s success would not be as probable without community support.
“The community has always been so supportive of our band program,” he said. “We appreciate the love and support and can only hope that we make our community proud of our kids and school.”
Noting that additional help is always welcome, Harris said there are many ways to get involved and support the band.
“One of the things that would help both Bassett and Magna Vista band programs are for people to find those old instruments still sitting in the closet and donate them back to the band programs for students who are in need of an instrument,” he said. “We are always looking for good instruments to help our students.”
Throughout their journey, Harris inspired the band to turn their weaknesses into their strengths.
“We pride ourselves on outworking the other bands,” Harris said. “Again, we don’t always have a ton of resources so we must rely on hard work and dedication. We live by ‘hard work will beat talent when talent won’t (beat) work hard.’”