Pride of Parrish Marching Band sees success in its first year of high school competition.
Heritage Harbour’s Jarrett Moore stood in line as the Pride of Parrish Marching Band was preparing to take the field.
Moore, a sophomore bass drum player, tried to remain calm as his nerves threatened otherwise.
He could see his fellow bandmates breathing heavily in anticipation of their first halftime performance Sept. 10 at Anclote High School.
“There were jitters going for the whole bus ride there,” Moore said. “When we were done, we were just glad it was over. We were just overwhelmed. The cheers and stuff afterward felt really good.”
“It was our goal just to survive,” Band Director Kendall Carrier said. “Don’t run into each other, don’t get hurt, and just do your first marching band show. It was well received by the opposing audience. The students felt like, ‘Oh, OK, we’re going to be OK.”
Growing up in North Carolina, Moore went to high school football games and always wanted to become a member of a marching band.
When Moore was in eighth grade at Carlos E. Haile Middle School, Carrier visited the school to introduce himself and promote Parrish Community High School’s new band programs. The school had just opened, and Carrier was recruiting eighth graders. Moore took advantage of the opportunity and has been playing percussion in the school’s bands programs since then.
Moore and Carrier have had to wait three years to finally have a marching season.
When the school opened in fall 2019, it didn’t have all the equipment needed for a marching band program, so it was pushed to the following year.
Then the pandemic hit, and starting a marching band program was not an option.
Finally, this year, the wait was over.
“When we actually started band camp this year, we knew that it was for real,” Carrier said. “It was a relief and joyous because it’s like, OK, we’re actually doing this for real.”
The band started its season with two weeks of band camp. None of the students had previous marching experience, and that led to the band learning music and drilling a step at a time.
“We couldn’t march a single spot,” Moore said. “No one knew how to read the drill book.”
Carrier said that although the band has sophomores, juniors and seniors, it was starting with a clean slate because few students had previous marching band experience.
“We essentially had all freshmen,” Carrier said. “We were able to teach them our style, our technique and all that from the start. There were silver linings because there we no bad habits to fix.”
On top of learning how to march, Esteban Moret-Ramirez, a junior who lives in Heritage Harbour, still was learning how to play the clarinet, which he started last year.
“I feel like marching with a new instrument has made me play so much better than I thought I would,” Moret-Ramirez said.
Carrier and the band members are amazed at the progress they’ve made since August. The band received an overall “excellent” rating at the Florida Band Association Music Performance Assessments, held Oct. 30 at Manatee High School. An “excellent” rating is the second highest rating a band can receive.
The band also placed first in the 2A division of two regional competitions and has qualified to perform in the semifinals at the Florida Marching Band Championships on Nov. 20.
“Seeing videos from the beginning, it blows my mind that was us,” Moore said. “Now to see where we are now, the progression is amazing.”
With the state competition upcoming, the Pride of Parrish Marching Band is working toward its goal of making the finals.
“I’m looking forward to how much we can push ourselves to improve by then,” said William Trinh, a junior. “I’m looking forward to making sure that we’re the best we could be.”
Every week the band has added more to its performance. The band performed its show in its entirety Oct. 30, and Trinh said it was epic.
“We worked hard to put the whole show piece by piece together,” Trinh said. “And just to have the final product, although it wasn’t perfect, was great. Everyone was happy. We were celebrating on the bus. Everyone was going crazy. They were singing. They had their phones blasting with music.”
Besides trying to achieve success on the field, Carrier is focused on developing the culture of the band and emphasizing hard work, commitment and accountability.
Carrier developed an acronym for Parrish: pride, accountability, responsibility, respect, integrity, service and honesty.
“We feel that if all of those things drive the culture, the band’s going to be successful,” Carrier said. “We talked about results, not excuses. We’re trying to have the kids have some grit where they can push through things.”
Trinh said the band can find a balance between hard work and finding times to relax.
When it started raining during rehearsal Oct. 29, the front ensemble was directed to go inside to ensure the instruments wouldn’t get wet. Trinh said that in between taking care of the instruments and practicing, students would joke around.
Moore, Moret-Ramirez and Trinh all said the band has given them an opportunity to make new friends and that the band feels like a family.
“You make the connection instantly,” Moret-Ramirez said. “People say, ‘Oh, that’s a band kid,’ but with band kids, the bond is strong. It means a lot to me to be in this band and to be with everyone.”
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