Arts and Entertainment

Marysville-Pilchuck band performs for change of command

MARYSVILLE — The Marysville-Pilchuck High School Band was invited to perform at the USS Shoup change of command Dec. 19, but M-PHS Band Director John Rants was quick to point out that this is not the band’s only acquaintance with the spotlight outside of school.

Not only did a select group from the M-PHS Band perform with the Seattle Symphony’s Pacific Northwest Community during the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 12 flight this year, but the M-PHS Brass Quintet is a regular performer at U.S. Navy Christmas parties. According to Rants, it was this visibility that led outgoing USS Shoup Commanding Officer Cmdr. Mike Lehman to contact him, when Navy Band Northwest went on leave and became unable to perform at the change of command ceremony.

“It’s amazing to me what these kids can do,” Rants said of the M-PHS Band. “They all have GPAs of 3.0 or above, they’re taking college-level classes, juggling jobs and sports, and that’s not even including all the hundreds of extracurricular hours they devote to band. They have incredible time management skills.”

Most of the M-PHS Band students interviewed credited their parents with sparking their interest in music, although 10th-grade tenor saxophone player Alex Plant cited her fifth-grade music teacher as the one to get her into playing. M-PHS Band President and 12th-grade flute player Kayla Shea expressed enthusiasm over the community of the band, which 11th-grade alto saxophone player Andrew Hanson described as a family.

“Most of our performances are in front of parents, so you feel extra pressure to be professional when you’re performing for the military,” Shea said. “It makes me nervous.”

“Actually, I feel nervous before every performance,” Plant said.

The band students admitted that their schedules can be demanding, and Shea and Hanson laughed as they said the same of their director, but Shea went on to praise Rants for his commitment to his students. All the students interviewed have enjoyed their band trips to locations such as Portland, Ore., and Victoria, B.C.

“Being in band teaches you to be more goal-oriented,” Shea said.

“It teaches you responsibility and useful life skills,” Plant said.

“If you haven’t tried it, you don’t know what you’re missing,” 10th-grade trombone player Taylor Olsay said.

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