Spring Grove Marching Band gets fired up for marching season with ‘Aztec Fire’ Community preview night is Aug. 26

Jordan Gerard

The Spring Grove Marching Band is bringing a lot of fire to the streets, through their instruments and color guard flags, of course.

Though its first parade isn’t until Sept. 7 for Steam Engine Days in Mabel, the band has been parading around town, practicing the song, marching and choreography.

The band is also getting ready to debut their song and marching to the Spring Grove community on Monday, Aug. 26, at the football field. The band will practice from 6 to 8 p.m. with a performance at 7 p.m.

In the event of rain that night, the preview night will be moved to Wednesday, Aug. 28, at 8 p.m. at the football field.

This year’s song, “Aztec Fire” by J. Bocook, has a Latin flair and intense sound, Director Willy Leafblad said.

“There’s a trumpet duet in the middle, which will be rotated from different trumpet players in performances,” he said. “It won’t be the same two players in every parade.”

The song is nearly the same difficulty as previous years, which will play to Spring Grove’s favor when they are judged in parades.

In addition to the new song, the color guard also purchased different flags that have red, orange and yellow to better represent the song’s theme. 

The color guard is also under the direction of Abigail Toussaint, a sophomore in music education at Luther College. Toussaint has experience with color guard, as she was part of Decorah High School’s team. Nine girls will be tossing flags in parades this year.

Look for her and other new teachers at Spring Grove Public Schools in next week’s edition.

Color guard started rehearsing a new routine in June, while band members just began rehearsals on Aug. 5.

Band members of each section (woodwinds, brass and drumline) have been rehearsing weekly, leading up to all band practices in the evenings on the football field. 

“Our group is more balanced this year with more of an even number of brass and woodwinds,” Leafblad said. “With even more brass and woodwind numbers, we’ll have a more cohesive sound.”

He added the band’s marching technique has improved each year, and this year they are especially happy using the football field. Leafblad thanked city staff for mowing the yard lines earlier than usual.

The five-yard marked lines help football teams and marching bands, because the steps taken in marching are 22.5 inches from heel to heel. On an eight count, every eighth is five yards, which allows the band to be more consistent.

Using the football field this year also came out of necessity, as three roads around the school are under construction.

Leafblad also mentioned he is happy to be part of a school district that allows their kids to be involved in everything they want to be.

“We have students being both athletes and musicians and because of that, we rehearse from 7 to 9 p.m.,” he said. “We do the best we can to support students and be courteous to the neighborhood.”

In addition to marching season, Leafblad is looking forward to the upcoming school year. 

Fifth grade students have acquired their chosen musical instruments and have been taking summer band lessons.

This allows them to get nearly caught up to the sixth grade band students, so that when the school year comes both grades are ready for the first band concert of the year. There are 53 kids in fifth and sixth grade band.

“I’m very appreciative of families, grandparents, neighbors to get kids to band lessons before school starts,” Leafblad added. 

He also looks forward to the talent of the junior high and senior high concert bands and jazz bands.

The junior high band sits at 33 students while high school has 45 kids.

“We encourage them to stick with it, because bigger numbers mean a higher quality experience for everyone,” Leafblad said. “We can play more complicated songs and have more parts for one instrument group.”

He asked parents to keep encouraging and support their kids in music so the quality remains for all students.

Parade schedule

Sept. 7, Hesper-Mabel Steam Engine Days, noon

Sept. 22, La Crescent Apple Fest, King Apple Parade, 1 p.m.

Sept. 28, La Crosse Oktoberfest, Maple Leaf Parade, 10 a.m.

Oct. 4, SGHS Homecoming Parade and football game – halftime