Elementary, middle school bands perform with high school tonight

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 19, 2000

Six years ago, Natchez High School band director Larry Buckley and Natchez Middle School band director Dale Young came up with an idea for an event to get elementary and middle school students to play with the Natchez High band. The event was called &uot;Band Night,&uot; and since then the event and the program has grown.

Buckley said that he and Young also came up with this as a good way of recruiting.

&uot;It’s used as a recruiting tool from one grade to the next,&uot; Buckley said. &uot;We try to recruit from elementary to middle school and from middle school to high school. We involve the students to be all one from grades five through 12.

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&uot;We’re fortunate in Natchez to have an elementary program. Most cities don’t have that.&uot;

Band Night itself actually begins with practice on Friday morning.

The Natchez-Adams School District provides transportation for the elementary and middle school students to the Multi-Purpose Center (the old Natchez Convention Center), Buckley said.

&uot;We then get them orientated as to where to sit, where to march and where to play,&uot; Buckley said. &uot;We have practice from 8 to 11 a.m.&uot;

He then said that practice can be a little &uot;hair-raising&uot; at times with the young students because they are so excited to be playing with the high school band.

&uot;Elementary school students and middle school students don’t get to see the high school band,&uot; Buckley said.

Buckley said parents often take their students to the game to see their children participate in the halftime activities.

&uot;The high school band does its thing. Then we’ll accompany the Lady Blues and their number,&uot; he said. &uot;The elementary and middle school kids do their thing and get out of there.&uot;

Although Band Night takes place only during the football season, the students have done concerts during the spring.

One thing that has helped with the success of Band Night is the increase in the number of students in Natchez High’s band over the past six years, from about 60 in 1995-96 to nearly 170 in 2000-01, Buckley said.

Five hundred students from the fifth through 12th grades are involved in the program.

&uot;It’s a lot of students and a lot of exposure,&uot; he said.

He also said that since this event and the program started, other band directors in the school district have assisted ever since, including Omar Cavazos, Clarence Gibson and Lee Moyer.

&uot;We all teach from the elementary through high school levels,&uot; he said. &uot;It’s another way of keeping the district together.&uot;