A Look Inside the Lakota West Marching Band 2022


Thomas Price, Website Manager

Over the past few years, The Lakota West High School Marching Band has been on the rise after winning numerous awards and growing in musical strength. They made it into Grand National Semi-Finals for the first time in 2019, are two-time, back-to-back BOA Regional Champions (2021 being their first time getting this title), and have won many other OMEA and MSBA Competitions through the years. This year, the Marching Band put on their 2022 Competitive show “Nocturnal Creatures”, ending the year with a Bands of America score of 84.85, their second-highest score of all time. Although their season ended on November 14th, the story of the Lakota West Marching Band started long before then, all the way back in March of this year.

After holding their Winter Concert, the West Band Directors turned the audience’s attention to a projector, revealing the name of this year’s show, Nocturnal Creatures. Featuring music by Debussy, Prokofiev, Beethoven, and Carol Brittin Chambers, the show was about the creatures that lurk in the night, featuring werewolves, spiders, and bats. With 14 giant moon props, the production with over 200 students and dozens more volunteers, donators, and parents to support them through their season. 

The Band’s season started in May with mini-camp, lasting from 1-9 pm each day for an entire week right after school ended. They learned the basics of marching, musical excellence, and how the marching band would start to function.

Throughout the summer, each musical group would have sectionals once a week, going over the new show music for the year, or reviewing pregame/stand tunes for football games. When July started, Marching Band members would see their summer come to an abrupt end with Band Camp. A four-week process to put together their Football Pregame and the first two acts of Nocturnal Creatures. With practices lasting anywhere from 8 to 14 hours long, band members worked nonstop in the summer heat to go beyond playing music and putting on a show for audiences, which would be put on the field for their first competition on September 17th in Obetz, Ohio. Winning the title of Regional Championship for the 2nd time ever, making this two years in a row, the band returned with high hopes as they swept through their next competition in Hamilton during the following week. 

Their time in Ohio, however, would be put to the side as they set sights on a bigger, more grand competition: The BOA St. Louis Super Regional. With over 60 bands enrolled, a place in the top few slots would be difficult to achieve. After a challenging run of the show bright and early in the morning at 8:30, the band was first out of Finals, which consisted of 14 top bands. Placing 15th, the band missed the opportunity by .225 points, pushing them to work even harder for their upcoming competition in Centerville later that month. 

After being named Grand Championships in the competition, the band looked to their final show of the year, Bands of America Grand Nationals, happening November 10th-12th. After performing with Lakota East in a send-off show the day prior, the West Marching Band left on Thursday at 9 in the morning, hoping to return later on with even more excitement and energy than before. Without another moment to breathe, the Marching Band went to perform later that night in Lucas Oil Stadium, located in Indianapolis. “It was really really satisfying to go back,” said Ryan Washing, a senior member of the band and member of the West Drumline. He had the honor of playing four times throughout his time with the band, saying “it made me feel like all my hard work had paid off, and I was so happy and so proud of all the band”.

With their supposed final run of the show in the bag, all the students could do was wait for results to see if they made it into Semi-Finals; if they did, this would be their second time ever. The following day, the group of 200+ students went into the crowd of Lucas Oil and watched as they announced the bands are moving on to the Semi-Finals. 34 out of over 100 Bands would be chosen, mostly with scores above the 80 range. Name after name was listed, with each one only making the students more anxious. After what felt like forever, the announcer said Lakota West’s name, and the band went wild. After 7 months of ongoing continuous work, from long school days to summer camps, their hard work had come to earn them something spectacular. On a side note, Lakota East also made it into Semi-Finals, just one place behind West in terms of BOA Show Scoring. Performing the following day at 3:45 pm, the group headed to the hotel and prepared for an early wakeup and an outside practice…in 30-degree weather, the ground to be covered in snow.

The final day for Nocturnal Creatures had arrived – it was time to put on the show one last time in Grand National Semi-finals. Such an opportunity was rare, and everyone was more energized than ever to give it their all, one last time. The band performed in front of almost 14000 people, many of whom were Alumni, classmates, parents, and even a few staff from throughout the district. Along with East’s performance, the Lakota Spirit was at its max with support from the District School Board and West High School Principal Ben Brown, who was present at West’s Preliminary and Semi-Finals performances. Scott Laman, the principal at West Freshman, also attended their Prelims run.

While the band returned home on Sunday the 13th, Monday would bring band awards; This was an event where the Marching Band would meet one last time in the Gymnasium and play through everything they’ve done this year, from the Competitive show to pep tunes like Hang on Sloopy and The Lion Sleeps Tonight. After doing one final performance of Wests Pregame, the Directors and Staff of the LWMB presented band awards to students who had gone above and beyond throughout their season(s) – Each Major Section (The Woodwinds, Brass, Percussion, and Guard) would have their own respective Rookie Award, Veteran Award (also known as the upperclassmen award) and Senior Award. The results and recipients were much deserving of this recognition, and with awards handed out, the Marching Band would conclude their 2022 Season. This group of high school students had gone through it all through; through blood, sweat, and tears, each and every one of them represented the Best of West.

Marching band continues to be a life-changing experience for all members, with many continuing to participate in the Musical Arts after graduation. While talking with Ryan about his favorite parts of the season, he couldn’t help but mention the moments he got to share with his friends and what made the program so special.  “The best parts of the season were without a doubt warming up before performing, just all the players coming together to kill it on a field, doing what they’ve been doing for months…The band took away most of my anxiety, and most evident, my anxiety of meeting new people.” He even went on to remind newcomers to the marching band that you need to give it time, “if its the music, the marching, or even the people…trust the process.”

Though the season may be over, the members of the group will have plenty to keep themselves busy with. Besides already having in-school Concert and Jazz Bands, students had the opportunity to audition for OMEA Honor Band on December 3rd, along with Winter Guard and Percussion Ensemble starting right around that time also. Marching Band might have ended, but for the students at Lakota West, their passion for music will continue to push them further to achieve musical greatness and become better musicians.