VIDEO: Belding High School marching band heading to state finals ranked 5th

Posted by Cory Smith • Last Updated 11:53 am on Monday, November 07 2011

Belding High School Marching Band Drum Major Mitchel Dykla, a junior, directs trumpet and mellophone players during an evening rehearsal Wednesday night at Rudness Field in Belding.

BELDING — On a cool Wednesday evening under the lights of Rudness Field at Belding High School (BHS), 105 students gathered motionless, waiting for a signal.
After a few brief seconds of silence, the students broke from their frozen stance and began striding across the field.
The sound of music quickly ripped through the crisp cool air, bouncing off nearby houses and echoing into the streets of Belding. While most students were by now at home enjoying dinner or relaxing, members of the Belding High School Marching Band had officially started work.
On Saturday at 9:45 p.m. the band will be taking its efforts and “Mendela”-themed halftime show to Ford Field in downtown Detroit to compete in the Michigan Competing Band Association (MCBA) State Finals.
Band Director Laura Hyler said late practices like the one have helped contribute to the band’s state ranking of fifth out of 16 schools they compete against.
“My first and foremost goal was just to make it,” Hyler said. “To be above half of the field is well above my goals and expectations for them.”
Forty-eight schools will compete on Saturday in four different flights which consist of the top 12 schools from each flight. The flights are assigned based on enrollment for the participating schools, with Belding performing in Flight IV.
“We are currently ranked fifth in the state in our flight,” Hyler said. “You combine your highest scores from competitions throughout the year and that’s the score you are placed with.”
Belding has now qualified for the state finals for seven consecutive years, placing as high as third in 2010. But Hyler is in her first year as BHS’s band director and has never directed a high school band in the MCBA.
“I’ve always done scholastic marching band, which doesn’t have an end result of state finals, you just go and compete for a rating.” she said. “Having been involved in both now, I can say this is much more time consuming and competitive.”
“The kids have to be very dedicated to marching and playing their music. Half of my kids are in fall sports and they have to juggle that with homework and being at practice for marching band.”
Hyler replaced Jonathan Schnicke, who left BHS band after 14 years to become the assistant high school and middle school principal for Portland Public Schools.
For band member Gabrielle Hayes, a junior, the switch didn’t necessarily come easy.
“Going from Mr. Schnicke to Mrs. Hyler, she’s been really helpful and it’s been a nice transition, but it’s still hard having someone completely new when you’ve had someone who you’ve gotten close to, both inside and outside of band,” she said. “It’s been a really hard year and we’re lucky to even be going to state this year, but she’s done really well with making us as comfortable as we can be and keeping all of our traditions intact.”
Belding senior Dylan Nichoson noticed the struggles at first, but said the change has been good for the band.
“She pushes you harder,” he said. “She’s our biggest motivator. She’s that person always driving, pushing us along. Everything is pretty much the same, but with a different voice. Other than that, it’s the Belding Band. It’s who we are.”
Though the new position has brought its fair share of challenges, Hyler said the controlled chaos has been a “good kind of crazy.”
“I truly believe things happen for a reason and these kids could have gone in the completely opposite direction than they did with a new director,” she said. “The’ve really bought into my philosophy and they can tell I care about my job and how passionate I am about music and the students. I commend them for that, they’ve been amazing.”
If you’d like to make the trip down to Detroit to support the band, tickets are $16 at the door for adults and $12 for senior citizens and students. Hyler said only cash will be accepted.

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