As November rolled in, Hobbton High School’s marching band wrapped up their competitive season for this year, bringing home around 20 trophies. Recently, Wildcat band members along with band instructor Geoffrey Tart gathered to relive and reflect on their season of wins and growth.
This season Hobbton’s marching band competed with a show entitled, “Planet Earth: Our Home” which included a total of four movements, each one representing a different aspect of earth. Movement one focused on land and featured music from Leonard Bernstein’s operetta “Candide;” movement two was all about the sky and featured music from “2001 Space Odyssey” and Holt’s “The Planets;” movement three focused on the sea and featured music from the hymn “For the Beauty of the Earth;” and movement four was all about the future, specifically humanity’s hope for the future, and featured music from “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”
“The last movement brings all three elements — land, sky, and sea — together to make this planet but then there’s something, there’s one thing that is missing,” noted Tart, “and that’s peace on earth.”
“I wanted to incorporate how we need to take care of the earth but I wanted to go beyond that,” Tart explained, mentioning that two banners were flown at the end of the show reading, “Give. Love. Save.” “I like to have shows with meaning and purpose. There’s been times when bands have performed, and when they’ve left the field, I’ve been like, ‘What was the purpose?’ I thought our show this year was something that people could feel and relate with.”
The band members were also excited about this year’s show and the message it shared.
Senior Jacob Blakley had the honor of being the featured soloist in the band’s rendition of “Let There Be Peace On Earth,” and shared his thoughts on the moving song.
“I can’t say I was really thinking about the meaning of the song when I was out there on the field playing because I was nervous, but of course it would be a good thing,” he said. “Any human in their right mind would want there to be peace on earth so I’m glad I had the opportunity to play something so meaningful.”
The group also agreed that the season and the show brought out their creativity and helped them grow, individually and as a group.
“This year we had some extra, interesting visuals,” said Tart, listing tall seahorses, big fish and starfish, and doves that were used at the show’s end during “Let There Be Peace On Earth.”
Members of the color guard, which was led by Sampson County Schools employee Aleisha Pittman, shared that though some of the props were difficult to dance with, they felt that they rose to the challenge and performed well.
Sophomore Nathan Gabe, another featured soloist, added that personally, “I feel like I grew musically and played better this season. I learned to blend better and feel like I became a better musician overall.”
Many of the members pointed out how the band grew collectively as well.
Senior and drum major Miranda Rose shared that “I think at the start we were pretty diverse but as the season progressed we bonded more,” calling leading the band as drum major “a great honor.”
The bonding of the band was particularly important this year given that so many of the band’s 53 members were new.
“This is the youngest group of band members I’ve actually taught,” pointed out Tart, who has been at Hobbton High 14 years.. “Only five are seniors. The majority are freshmen and sophomores.”
But despite the inexperience, all felt it was a good year.
“I think the season went really well and we accomplished a lot especially considering that we had a lot of new members,” said junior Hannah Byrd.
Fellow band member and saxophone player Mallory Turner agreed. “We only had three members (in our section) so we were one of the smallest sections but they (the other two members) really pulled through and did a good job. It brought us closer together and it made for a good senior year for me.”
“They did get a lot of compliments,” noted Tart. “Even though they were one of the smallest sections, they were told they were one of the best.”
Freshman Bethany Bass credited strong upperclassmen leadership as a reason for the young band’s success. “My section leaders taught me how to march and play more musically so it really wasn’t hard.”
“I put a great deal of emphasis on leadership,” added Tart, happy to see students developing as leaders in the band. “I want the students to have that ownership of the band.”
Putting in many hours of practice also contributed to the band’s award-winning season. According to Tart, the band, which is considered a class at the high school, practices every day during school as well as on Monday afternoons and on Saturday mornings before competitions.
All that practice and hard work paid off this season as the band brought home numerous honors including everything from Rose being named the number one drum major of the day at the last two competitions to the band earning superior honors at three of the four competitions in which they performed.
“We want to be the band that people remember, and over the past couple of years, we’re getting to be known for that. We’re starting to intertwine with some of the bigger schools so the competition is getting a little tougher,” acknowledged Tart, adding that while winning is nice all he really wants from his students is their best effort. “I don’t harp on winning. Instead it’s more about encouraging them to do their best because it’s really not about winning. It’s about entertaining, having a message to share, and representing the school and community and sometimes even the state.”
“Before every competition I tell them to leave their legacy on the field,” he continued, “and I remind them that there’s always someone there we can help. That’s being successful and that’s what I want for my students because being successful is key to being prosperous. Band instills that in students.”
Already working on the next show, Tart knows that this year’s will be hard to top.
“Every year in designing a marching show I want to be able to challenge my students towards success. This year’s show did just that. The band members had to pull together to be a family of one. Every band member not only did his or her part, but also took it to the next level,” he said. However, “being successful does not stop at just 100 percent. You have to keep on keeping on, keep on re-doing, keep on learning, and keep on working.”
And none of the band’s success this season would have been possible without the help and support from the many people involved, stressed Tart, sharing his appreciation for the band directors who taught him — Ed Taylor and Bob Buckner — as well as offering thanks to drill designer John Lowe of Clinton and music arranger Matthew Parunak of Cary.
“I really want to thank the parents for all their hard work,” he shared. “We had some big props this year and they helped maneuver them and pull them off the field. They helped pack and unpack the trailer. If it wasn’t for the parents, we wouldn’t be where we are. They’re the backbone.”
“I also want to thank the administration, both here at the school and at the central office, for their support,” Tart added.
Among those supporters is Hobbton High principal Jennifer Daughtry.
“I can’t say enough good things about the band. I support them 100 percent,” responded Daughtry. “I went to three of their four performances and they were just immaculate. They did an excellent job. Mr. Tart always strives for excellence and his students know it. You can tell they perform with pride.”
The Hobbton Middle and Hobbton High band concert is scheduled for Dec. 6. The bands can also be seen in the Clinton, Newton Grove, and Dunn Christmas parades.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.