Behind the scenes with the Derby marching band

Natalie Wilson

The football team wasn’t the only one that had business to do at the first playoff game on Oct. 29. Under the bright lights for all to hear, the Panther marching band proudly played for the green and black.

The long evening of festivities began at 3:15 p.m. when the band members and volunteers — including band director Adam DeVault — loaded  all of the big instruments and props for their show onto three big trucks. 

The band members were like a well-oiled machine. They all knew what needed to get done and where everything needed to go.

After everything was loaded, the trucks were locked and delivered to Panther Stadium.

At 5:30, the band members met at the back of the stadium parking lot by the baseball field where the trucks were parked. They started to unload everything and place it on the grass to get it ready for later when it would need to be transported to the field.

They say it takes a village, and that’s no joke in the band world. There are 20-25 parent volunteers who help out each week to make the night run smoothly. It was no different on this night.

After everyone arrived, they went into the baseball stadium to warm up. Every band member has a specific spot to stand in their formation, organized by instrument.

The band also plays the music for the Pantherettes dance team’s halftime performance, so the dancers met the band on baseball field for two practices. This is one of the pieces that the drum majors — Logan Bach, Nathan Cockrell and Liam Dixon — lead.

After they warmed up and hung out for a while, it was time to make their entrance. The band, led by the drumline, marched into the stadium.

They lined up on the opposite side of the field from the fans in their formation and marched onto the field together for an introduction a few minutes before the football team came out.

After their big entrance, the band made their tunnel for the football players to run out through while they played the fight song. 

Then they made their way over to the stands on the end zone, where they sat and cheered on the football team, playing songs during timeouts and after touchdowns.

The beginning of the second quarter is usually when the band starts heading back toward the baseball stadium again to get ready to perform at halftime; however, it was a little different on Oct. 29 against Wichita Southeast, which was winless. At the end of the first quarter — and with the football team beating Southeast 49-6 — the referee announced on the public address that “by agreement of both administrations, the remainder of the game will be played with a running clock.”

Panic ensued because that meant the band only had 12 minutes before they were supposed to be lined up ready to get on the field. Every band member and adult knew exactly what to do, and they rushed back to change and get ready as quickly as possible. In all the commotion, however, it was decided that the band would not be performing until after the game, so everyone calmed down significantly.

There is an extremely well-organized system for getting everyone into uniform and back to the field. There are four racks that have bags with different kids’ names on them. Everyone has a number and a rack, arranged alphabetically by their last name. They pick up their bag from the racks, take it over to the fence, and put on their uniform.

After that, they go back towards the racks and get their helmet, and then they are ready to go. The color guard has different uniforms than the rest of the band because, in the band’s show, they portray factory workers building an airplane.

However, there is a lot going on that doesn’t involve the kids changing and getting themselves ready. All of the percussion instruments that aren’t drums have to be taken to the field, as well as sound equipment and props. All of the instruments were hooked up to an ATV and slowly driven into the stadium towards their spot at midfield.

Then they finally headed back into the stadium, with about 10 minutes left in halftime. For the number of people and things that had to get done, it was impressive how fast they did it. 

The parents and volunteers followed the kids in with the sound equipment and extra instruments. However, the football game was still going on, so they had to leave everything in the corner until after the game.

The band has the third quarter off, usually because they would’ve just gotten done performing, but tonight they just sat in the stands and hung out for a quarter.

The color guard used the extra time to warm up. They took their flags to the side of the bleachers and did some warm-up throws and dances.

The game concluded in a 63-9 Panther victory, and that meant it was go time. Everyone started setting up. Dragging and carrying things onto the field, the band was almost ready.

They took the field and walked over to their formation where they would start the festivities by playing for the Pantherettes dance team.

They played the piece for the Pantherettes while the color guard sat ready and waiting in position for the show.

Then it was show time. After waiting for their time, the band finally took the field and performed their show “Heavy Metal.”

The show is about a group of factory workers and the struggles they face while trying to build an airplane. The airplane featured in the show was built by Marty Hunt, a local Derby resident. 

The show also featured a variety of soloists including junior D Snyder and drum major Liam Dixon.

The show includes many different types of movement and freezing for the musicians. They have to turn and go in different directions while keeping their top half facing forward all while playing so that they can see the drum majors and be heard properly.

 

Meanwhile, on the sidelines the adults are mostly watching and waiting to help tear everything down. However, some of the volunteers run sound equipment, turning microphones up and down for different instruments when they need to be heard.

The percussion section has a completely different job during the performance. Each musician might have more than one instrument that they are running between playing, all while timing things right to sound good.

 

After the performance, everything was put back on the rolling carts and gators that it came in on and got taken back towards the baseball stadium.

Everyone walked back to the baseball stadium and celebrated the end of a chaotic night.

All the uniforms went back on the exact rack that they came from, organized exactly the same way so that they could find them next time.

The color guard packed up their flags and put them in the bags to go on the trucks.

The kids had to change back into their tracksuits so that they could go home after a long day of band activities.

Everything had to be loaded back onto the trucks so that it could be transported up to Lawrence the next day for the band’s final competition. They ended up taking second place in their division and sixth place overall.