Colorado high school band to march during Rose Bowl parade

Listen Now

(Photo: Legacy HS marching)At Legacy High School in Broomfield, members of the marching band are rehearsing for what’s likely to be the largest audience they’ll ever have.

They have landed a spot in the Rose Parade, which complements the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day in Southern California.

“I feel lucky and excited to be taking part in a once in a lifetime opportunity,” freshman Andrew Precourt said during a rehearsal last week while he clutched a flag for the band.

Clay Stansberry, the music teacher who has led the Legacy Lightning marching band at the school for the last decade, lined up the kids. “I’m going to rearrange you,” he said. “Clump up!” It didn't happen quickly, but row by row, he placed 190 kids in order.

(Photo: Legacy HS marching 2)All this week, Colorado Public Radio, including CPR Classical and OpenAir, are highlighting the role music plays in young people's lives during Kids Music Week. On "Colorado Matters," Stansberry talks about what it is like to get so many kids -- most of them still mastering their instruments -- to one of the most prestigious marching band parades in the nation.

One issue: Funding. Stansberry has to raise $100,000 to keep the band operating, including its staff, and another $500,000, he says, to get the band to the Rose Bowl parade in Pasadena, Calif. To do the latter, the band is selling raffle tickets for $25 each. The winner gets a Jeep or $20,000 in cash.

The business of the band itself is more straightforward. After arranging the kids, Stansberry ordered them to start marching. They weren't playing much. They just placed one foot in front of another, faced forward, with eyes moving, mindfully glancing down or sidewards.

(Photo: Legacy HS marching 3)Then, section by section -- from drums to flutes -- they began to make music.

Under Stansberry’s watchful eye, simple drills like this got the band to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2011.

“Oh, we’re looking for kids to be in step,” he says, “for their toes to be high; for them to be in their lines side to side, maintain space front to back, play their music right, not miss -- horns up, horns down, all those types of things.”

Senior clarinetist Sydney Harmon seemed to take all the pressure in stride: “I mean of course, at the beginning, you’re going to be struggling a little bit, but I mean it’s part of the challenge of marching band.”

And the reward? A sense of camaraderie, said senior trombone player Christian Femrite. “We really have a family here," he said, "where all the kids can come and feel like they’re accepted as part of the group, and a lot of time in high school situations you don’t feel that way.”