The fall sports season at Franklin High School is in full swing. In the gym, girls are playing volleyball, at the Macon Middle School soccer field the guys continue to dominate their competition and on Friday nights, the Panthers' varsity football team suits up to take on all-comers to the gridiron, but the sounds of smashing helmets isn't the only sound coming from the stadium.
The FHS band provides the musical soundtrack for the football team and very ably entertains the audience at half time shows, but not only do they provide backup, they also compete regularly in the fall and turn heads when they do it.
The 2013-2014 band has 79 total members; 51 brass and woodwind players, nine on drumline, one drum major, one sound technician, eight in the front ensemble, and six colorguard members, not to mention the three students who play in the FHS rock band.
According to band director Buddy Huckabee, halftime shows at the football games are not only meant to entertain, but also to serve as a dress rehearsal for the competitions in which the band will compete during the month of October.
“Our main goal is to put on a quality half-time show that is both entertaining and competitive on the field before the middle of October,” said Huckabee. “Since it takes several months to learn the music, drill formations, music transitions, and grasp the overall concept of the complete show, mid-October is our basic focus. We always seek to improve the band's performance at their regional competitions. Most of the time we do not perform our entire show at football games, nor do we utilize props and staging aspects for our show due to the lack of time for half-time performances. If you only see the show at the football games, you are missing out on most of the production.”
Some people may not know that the band competes like the other teams at FHS, but they do and they do it well. The band has been named the 2005 Toyota Gator Bowl Silver Division Grand Champions, the 2008 Alamo Bowl Silver Division Grand Champions, and the 2012 Gator Bowl Class A Grand Champions.
According to Huckabee, a band competition takes place every Saturday from the last one in September through the last Saturday in October. For five full weeks, the band will try to improve and compete with their shows throughout the southeast. High school band directors are told the locations of the competitions each year in the spring so they can prepare for traveling to them in the fall.
“Even though competitions begin at the end of September, most bands still have not completed their entire production for the competition, and only compete with what they have prepared as they continue to complete their shows,” he said.
The members of the band take a day by day approach to learn their show and sometimes practice three or more nights a week to prepare for upcoming competitions. This year's show theme is entitled “We Wanna Rock” and features music from Elvis, Twisted Sister, Journey, Jefferson Starship, Aerosmith, Kiss, Queen, Led Zepplin, and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.
Ninety-five percent of the band's budget each year is raised by the band booster program. Their next fundraiser is a pancake breakfast at Fatz Cafe that will take place this Saturday, Sept. 14, from 7 to 10 a.m..
The band also looks to raise funds for a March trip to Disney World where they will compete in the Festival Disney competition. The students will raise money through their annual fruit sale beginning at the end of September.
“The band students need and appreciate all of the support they can get,” said Huckabee. “We want to thank our school system and the community for their continued support of our championship band program.”
The competition calendar includes: