Students find different reasons to participate in JMU Band Day


Lucie Rutherford

HHS marching band members march with the Dukes.

Each year, the award-winning Marching Royal Dukes (MRD’s), James Madison University’s marching band, invite motivated high schoolers to come join them in a day full of experience and performance. Members of the HHS band go to the event every year, with 11 motivated Streaks attending this year. The event was held on Saturday, September 16, the same day the Dukes played Norfolk State in football. To go along with this game, the high schoolers from around Virginia joined the MRD’s during their halftime performance. Senior tenor saxophone player Geneva Van Wyk and sophomore baritone saxophone player Kirk McClay went.

“[Before coming here], we just had to learn one song, which wasn’t bad,” Van Wyk said. The musicians also had to learn where they would be standing on the field before the big day, according to McClay.

High schoolers got to JMU early that morning, and spent the day preparing for the game and learning from the college musicians amongst them.

“We got to play with all of the MRD’s and meet with these guys that are really good, we had a workshop with them which was really fun, and then we got to play on the field,” Van Wyk said.

Despite the exciting halftime performance, for Van Wyk, the rest of the day was not so fun-filled.

“It’s only a two minute performance, and everything else was a whole lot of waiting,” Van Wyk said. “But, I think that when you’re actually on the field with all of the MRD’s it’s really exciting because they’re really, really good.”

When it comes to the best part of the day for McClay, it’s the ending.

“Everyone applauds, and that’s really cool,” McClay said.

For many, this kind of experience could persuade them to pursue marching in college, if not attending JMU altogether, though for Van Wyk, she has made the opposite decision.

“I’m not [pursuing marching band in college] because the colleges I want to go to are smaller, so they don’t have big marching bands, which is why I’m doing this. It’s like the last time I’d get to,” Van Wyk said.

Though McClay has more time to decide, he has already started thinking about continuing his marching band career.

“I’ve considered it, it just depends on where I want to go,” McClay said.

For both musicians, the day was one of expanding their musical knowledge and getting to see what it’s like as a college musician.