Creston Community High School marching band attended the Iowa High School Music Association contest Saturday and came home with another Division I rating for the 31st straight year.
“They were still practicing at the old high school the last time Creston got a two at contest” said CCHS Band Director Mike Peters.
The IHSMA hosts the marching band festival every year. There are eight festivals statewide,— four in the north and four in the south — with the CCHS band performing in Glenwood.
“It’s really a cool, cool event, because you’re not competing against anything but yourself,” said Peters. “You’re basically up to a standard. You can get a five which is poor, a four which is fair, a three which is good, a two which is excellent, and one that’s superior.”
The 31 year streak even predates Peters’ tenure, who has now been with the program for 25 years.
“This is my 25th year here.” said Peters. “Kurt Schwarck, who is a good friend, started that string his last six years here. From then on, we’ve been lucky enough to get straight ones. It’s been close a couple of years, but we have been able to maintain that level of excellence.”
Over the course of these three decades, high school band as a whole has experienced changes. While many of these can be attributed to innovation and accessibility to newer forms of technology, there are thematic shifts as well.
“The drill design is different. Now it’s more of a theatrical thing. It used to be more like what you see at college football games.” said Peters. “They’d play songs the crowd would know. But now its more of a concept show.”
The band’s performance this year was called “Fury.” The show was a concept to simulate the buildup of a storm, telling a story of the forces of nature through music and movements.
Success in any area takes skill, devotion and experience, but Peters would never take all the credit.
“These kids make me look good again,” said Peters. “If I didn’t have good kids who were willing to learn all the incredibly difficult music and drills I put in front of them, it wouldn’t be worth it.”
Two such students include the band’s two drum majors, junior Unity Anderson and senior Gabriel Frakes, who share their director’s enthusiasm.
“I just love music,” said Anderson. “It’s been a big part of my life. I just grew up listening to music and bands and going to gigs.”
The drum majors are leadership figures in the marching band. They carry out the instructions of the band instructor and take on extra responsibilities such as conducting and taking attendance.
“Mr. Peters is teaching us more than just band,” said Frakes. “He’s teaching us commitment. We get up every morning and we audition and push ourselves to go further.”
“It gives us a little insight about how life will be outside of high school. There’s a lot of leadership and individuality in band. You just have to have a good mindset,” said Anderson.
The CCHS band shows no signs of stopping. While Saturday was their last performance of “Fury,” they are working hard in preparation for future festivals and concerts, with All State Music Auditions being held this Saturday, Oct. 26.