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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Putting music in motion

Marching bands’ multifaceted work scrutinized in competition

Many marching bands perform during the halftime shows of their schools’ football games, but Saturday was all about the bands at the Pacific Northwest Marching Band Championships held at Joe Albi Stadium.

The bands – East Valley High School, Cheney, Southridge from Kennewick, Kennewick, University, Pasco, A.C. Davis from Yakima, West Valley from Yakima, Bozeman, Mt. Spokane and Central Valley – showed up to win.

“Every band gets to march twice,” said Rich Harvey, one of the organizers of the show. “We think they really enjoy that.”

The show, also called “The Sounds of Thunder,” was sponsored by the Greater Spokane Drum Corps Association, which uses the competition to raise funds for the Spokane Thunder Drum and Bugle Corps. That group, which includes members ages 13 to 21 from throughout the region, will travel the nation next summer to compete against other drum corps.

At some competitions, every band competing comes for the preliminary competition and then waits to see if it made the finals. At the show on Saturday, all the bands made it to finals.

Bands enter the show according to size.

Mike Suhling, band director at Cheney High School, was pleased with how his band performed during the preliminary competition.

“I think it went well,” he said. “It was more powerful than last weekend.”

Cheney competed in Kennewick a week ago and won its division, as well as best brass and wind instruments and best percussion.

On Saturday, the musicians met at the school at 8 a.m. and probably didn’t make it back until well after 8 p.m.

Marching band is more than marching and playing instruments. It is a combination of musical ability, athleticism, artistic ability and being able to perform. The students start practicing during the summer months and continue into the school year.

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