Mililani High School Marching Band Back in Season


Macallister Graves

Mililani High School’s marching band competed in its first competition of the school year on October 23. The new season marks the band’s return from virtual learning, and there are new systems in place during events. This year, the marching band works to rebuild the connections halted over the pandemic.

“The first one was pretty good, Menehune Classic’s always rough because, you know, it’s the first one, and people have stage fright, or they all of a sudden blank out, like on a math test,” said assistant marching band director Tori Kawasaki. “Just like a math test, or any other exam, they just kind of blank out right? But I think the band is trained well enough this year, especially that we did just fine at Menehune Classic. In fact, we performed the, more or less, the whole show versus 2019 we didn’t, so this year we’re doing pretty good.”

Regardless of the competition being the first of the season, which posed challenges for newer members, the marching band performed the full show. The competition was outside, and the weather was fairly windy.To prepare for competitions, the marching band has regular practices on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday for about 4 hours, and before it starts on the day of. During practice, the marching band works on physicality, dancing ability, flexibility, and cardio. The focus of the practice varies on what the band needs to improve upon.

“I’m most excited to pass down all the traditions that we have for returnees and stuff that had multiple years in the program, because there’s so many traditions that we got to do, we couldn’t do any of them virtually, and now all the rookies, they’ll get to experience that same thing,” said senior and head color guard captain Paige Thomas.

Last year’s season was virtual, with practices held online instead of in person. With this challenge, there were difficulties in creating bonds between sections.

Sections are like mini families, junior Ty Wakahiro said. They do activities with each other to create close bonds that are needed for the teamwork aspect of music. Some sections have traditions that are passed down. For example, the trumpet section buys apple cider or root beer for everyone during special performances like homecoming or the Trojan Bandfest.

“Yes, so music’s just all about teamwork, and I think that’s very different, we’re not necessarily competing against other people, we’re trying to compete against ourselves, see how well we can work together” Kawasaki said. “We can’t control the outcome of other bands, but we can control the outcome of our band, so that’s where we really try to focus on, trying to see how well we work together as a group, and just whatever the result is, that’s the result.”

The hope for this year is to reconnect, recruit members, and to work hard to create another season that will do as well or better than season’s before. Traditions will continue to be passed down in each section, and activities are hoped to continue for the newer students moving into the marching band.

“Marching band is just kind of a place where you can go after school, before practice, wherever, you can hang out with people, most of them are really friendly, so, it’s good for them,” Wakahiro said.

The marching band continues to rebuild the connection lost over the pandemic through routinely participating in activities, attending practice, or taking part in camps.

“We play the song, ‘As the World Caves In’ in the later part of our show and it’s just one of these big hits where everyone’s playing and everyone’s in still position, so I think it’s kind of cool,” said Wakahiro.  “I think it was just cool because we usually, for shows, we have a couple bits, throughout the show where we all stand still and play, and it’s just really cool, because nothing else is moving, all you can hear is the nice music.”

This show’s title is “The Eleventh Hour,” and it focuses on the global effects of climate change. The performance conveys the message that change is possible, even during the final moments of our world.

Another change this year are the new restrictions during practices and competitions. In similar fashion to the Oahu Interscholastic Association, masks must be worn by all students, aside from those who play wind instruments. Members must also be vaccinated and tested for Covid-19.

“It’s really fun to get to meet everybody and see other bands and how they run things, I think it’s really interesting.” Thomas said.

The performance process is the same; 45 minutes to warm up and then perform, and the show being around 8 to 9 minutes long itself. The difference this year is that the marching band leaves immediately after performing. Instead of arriving home at around 1 in the morning, which was the norm for members, Moanalua’s competition ended at around 6 p.m., as they were no longer allowed to talk or watch other schools’ performances. Other than a preview after one of the camps, the marching band performs with no spectators.

“I’m just really glad that we’re able to rehearse and perform together. Some schools don’t have it as easy, or are taking things really strictly, which is totally understandable, but because we have that freedom, Mr. Murphy really trusts us as directors, we can do what we need to do, and still be smart about being safe,” Kawasaki said.

This year was Kawasaki’s first year at Mililani, also being his first year as assistant marching band director. In 2019, as a volunteer, he was a technician in charge of the brass, as opposed to now, where he’s primarily in charge of the music in general. Kawasaki works with marching band director Derek Ka`apana.

“Oh, it’s very fun, it’s just time-consuming. It’s, you know, marching band’s always fun, I’ve been doing it for a long time, just helping out at random marching bands, or being part of it as well. It’s not something that everybody loves, but it’s something that I really like, because of the result at the end of the season,” Kawasaki said.

For more information about the marching band, Tori Kawasaki and Derek Ka`apana can be found in Building K. Kawasaki can be reached at [email protected].