High School Marching Bands

James S. and Susan W. Aber

High school marching bands are popular in the Great Plains as they are throughout the United States. Each autumn, bands perform half-time shows at football games, march in parades, and participate in regional festivals. Energetic music is enhanced by the visual display of marching in formation, brightly colored uniforms, and flag-corps routines. Larger bands often have more than 100 members, and membership may exceed 200 in the largest bands. The band experience builds musical ability, promotes teamwork, and gives high school students a sense of accomplishment.

Central States Marching Band Festival

The Central States Marching Band Festival is held each year in mid-October at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas. The festival and competition draw large and small high-school marching bands throughout the region. Each band performs its football half-time show in the K-State football stadium. The following pictures illustrate the events, from band arrival to on-field performance, for the 1999 festival. Click on the small images below to see full-sized versions. Photo date 10/99; © J.S. and S.W. Aber.

A band arrives in five chartered buses plus a cargo truck for check in (top of view). The stadium scoreboard and locker-room complex is visible in lower part of view.
Bands unload from buses and cargo trucks in the left background, while spectators begin to enter the stadium. In the right background is an unusual octogonal building, the Fred Bramlage Coliseum.
A band is lined up single file on the access road to the stadium field. In this view the band is just beginning to enter the football field.
The band marches onto the football field and takes its starting position along the goal line.
The band begins its performance by marching onto the field in a triangle formation as the spectators (and judges) look on from the stands. Note, part of the percussion section is set up at the 50-yard line in front of the stands.

The authors attended the Central States Marching Band Festival in 2001 with the intention of doing kite aerial photography again. However, light and variable wind combined with security concerns kept the kites on the ground. The following digital pictures depict the Emporia High School marching band performing in the stadium. These pictures were taken in late afternoon from the stands--compare these views with the KAP above. Photo date 10/01; © J.S. Aber.

The band presents a "solid line" early in the routine. Senior drum major, Jason Brooks, directs from the red platform with assistance from junior and sophomore drum majors at either side.
The band spreads out as it marches into various formations. The Dodge City band is moving into the "ready" position on the entrance ramp in the background.
Nathan LeClear and Anna Sielert play a trumpet duet in front of the band, while the flag corps performs behind.


Neewollah--that's Halloween spelled backward--is a marching band festival held on the last Saturday of October each year in Independence, southeastern Kansas. It represents the culmination of the fall marching season for high school bands in eastern Kansas and western Missouri. The morning parade though downtown Independence draws thousands of spectators, and the bands perform in the football stadium in the afternoon.

On October 27, 2001, the authors conducted KAP from the city cemetery adjacent to the football stadium under brillant sunshine and light breeze (4-7 mph). This wind range is not enough for most kites, but it's too much for helium balloons. To provide sufficient lift for camera rigs, we employed two large rokkaku kites flying from the same main line--see dual kites.

The following series of pictures depicts the Highland Park High School (Topeka) marching band through the sequence of events during their performance. Behind the stadium, numerous buses indicate the large number of schools and students in the festival. The city zoo is situated to the left of the stadium, in the area with colorful trees. Notice slight differences in resolution and color between digital images and film photographs; date 10/01; © J.S. and S.W. Aber.

Band members are marching into position outside the stadium on the left side of view. Kite flyers are visible in the lower right corner. Digital camera image.
The band is assembled in a "ready" position at the entrance to the stadium on left side of view. Digital camera image.
The band has marched onto the football field and has commenced performing. Color-slide film photograph.
The band performance nears its end in front of the grandstand. Color-slide film photograph.
The band marches off the performance field onto the track in front of the grandstand. Color-slide film photograph.

The following views were taken with a digital camera inside the football stadium. The Emporia High School marching band performed at dusk with the stadium lights turned on. Relatively slow exposure speed for digital images created some "action" shots as the band moved through its routine. Compare these ground pictures with the KAP views above. Photo date 10/01; © J.S. Aber.

Jason Brooks, senior drum major, conducts the band in the opening portion of the field program.
Senior Kelly McCarty completes a trombone solo as the band continues to perform.
Flags in the background add visual impact to the band's music and marching.

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Last update 11/01.