The horns will trumpet the arrival of Central Valley High School’s marching band in Washington, D.C., this week for a celebration that only happens every four years.
President Barack Obama starts his second term in office Sunday followed Monday by a public inauguration and a parade of festivities featuring musicians from every state.
CV’s band is one of 14 high school groups selected to march Monday, representing Washington. The band was chosen based on letters of recommendation from Sen. Patty Murray, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, other elected officials and teachers.
They learned they’d been accepted for the parade only in December, which gave them little time to practice. With what time they had, they bused to Eastern Washington University’s fieldhouse to rehearse their steps.
Band director Eric Parker selected the repertoire, a medley of Civil War-era folk songs: “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” “Shenandoah,” “Battle Cry of Freedom” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
“The music is pretty punchy. (‘Shenandoah’) is the one that is kind of fun in there. It starts upbeat, but has this little chill moment. It gives the trumpets some time to rest their face because the ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’ is rippin’,” Parker said.
The parade has strict rules for music. “Hail to the Chief” is not allowed; neither are military service marches or hymns because the five military branches traditionally perform those pieces.
By last week’s practice, it was starting to sink in for Parker and about 130 of his students that they would march past the White House. It will take four commercial flights to transport the students across the country this morning and a cross-country road trip for the band’s big instruments to make it.
“The kids are never going to forget this. This is potentially the thing they talk about – when they were in high school – this is memory No. 1,” Parker said.
There’s an educational value visiting a historical event and the country’s capital. Students realize the opportunity before them.
“I think it’s an honor. We work hard, but so do other bands, too. It’s a real honor for us to be selected to go. If you work hard, it really does pay off,” said senior Nick Rheingans.
The civic opportunity is something some students never dreamed of. Lindsey Kridler, a member of the school’s Color Guard, is excited for the Capitol tours and museums.
“I never thought we’d be marching in the parade. I thought it would be a fun hobby to do in the summer,” Kridler said. “It’s going to be some great memories.”
Traveling in a group is special for the students. Together they’ll experience a historic event in the context of the architecture and art, Parker said.
“There’s not one single goal. There’s kids going for the trip, there’s kids going for the parade and there’s kids going because they’ve never been on an airplane before,” Parker added.
Parent Lori Wilson is worried about that last part. She’s one of the lucky parents tagging along for the ride.
“It will be very interesting to go through security at the airport,” Wilson said.
The students will also play a festival in Brooklyn Park, Md., over the weekend before the inauguration ceremony. Parker said they originally planned on flying to Washington, D.C., anyway for the concert, but the inauguration invitation extended their trip.