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Lakewood Ranch marching band to appear in Tribute to Heroes Parade

Mustang Marching Band combines community involvement with desire to earn awards.

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No judges will be watching their every step and no awards will be available when the Lakewood Ranch Mustang Marching Band comes down Main Street for the Tribute to Heroes Parade on Sunday, May 29.

The rewards, though, will be plentiful.

"The people are there for you," said Lakewood Ranch senior-to-be Valerie Super, a drum major. "They appreciate us and they dance. It gives us an opportunity to show off."

While the world of high school marching band has become an extremely competitive proposition across the United States, Lakewood Ranch Director of Bands Ron Lambert wants to keep things in perspective.

He was asked, with state championships on the line every year, if it was important to perform for the community.

"It's the most important aspect, as I tell our kids and their families," said Lambert, a professional drummer who is a quarterfinalist for the Grammy Foundation's Music Educator Award.

Lambert is among 290 nominees remaining after the pool began with 3,300 music instructors. The award recognizes educators who have made significant and lasting contributions to music education. Semifinals will be announced in September.

While Lambert's marching band has rolled up impressive honors on a yearly basis, including the Grand Champion and the Most Outstanding Gold Band awards at the 2015 Peach Bowl, they serve the community as well.

The Tribute to Heroes Parade will be Lakewood Ranch's fourth and final parade of the school year. They also play at functions such as the Southeastern Guide Dogs benefit, the grand opening of the Wawa at Lorraine Road and State Road 70 and special events at Lakewood Ranch Country Club.

Lambert said he has colleagues who say parades can detract from a band's ability to compete well at the most important competitions.

"I believe the community needs to see these kids having fun," Lambert said. "It was a goal of mine to get us more involved."

After spending six years as an assistant, Lambert has led the program the past six years. His band has become a fixture at the Tribute to Heroes Parade.

"We encourage (the students) to smile, dance, engage the crowd," Lambert said.

The students don't need much encouragement to enjoy themselves.

Haley Legg, who will be a senior when the new semester begins, said she loves seeing the streets lined with people. "It's our chance to support the community," she said.

Although, it can get tiring. "It's about an hour of holding up a clarinet," she said with a smile.

Fellow Clarinet player Matthew Estes, who also will be a senior, said it is difficult to "stay in form and make it look good. You've got to keep your vertical and horizontal lines even."

All the while, they will be playing their signature tune "The Horse."

Clarinet player Matthew Estes will perform with the Lakewood Ranch High School marching band in the Tribute to Heroes Parade.
Clarinet player Matthew Estes will perform with the Lakewood Ranch High School marching band in the Tribute to Heroes Parade.

But even as they play, the Mustangs will notice the faces of those in the crowd.

"We get to see that we are having an impact on them," Estes said.

Although thousands of people attend state championship competitions, Lambert said the Mustangs can have an effect of more than a hundred thousand people when combining the attendance of parades. And while they aren't being judged, Lambert and his students want the band to look good.

"We still have the military part of it," Lambert said. "We respect that."

When the Mustangs are playing "The Horse," those at the parade will be treated to many different cadences of the drums.

"Everybody loves the drums," Super said.





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