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BHS Bulldog Band jazzes it up

Bearden High School Bulldog Band plans to jazz it up for the 2005 marching season with “Dances in Jazz.”

“Obviously it’s jazz music,” BHS band director Mark Connell said.

“Dances in Jazz” will consist of five selections relating to dances set in a jazz style.

Connell said, “Audiences can expect innovative visual concepts, a strong horn line, a strong percussion ensemble, six wonderful majorettes, and a larger color guard which will incorporate all types of equipment and dance throughout the production.”

The Bulldog Band is 200 strong this year, which is “large for around here.” Connell said the band directors and instructors have been working hard and the feeder schools — West Valley, Cedar Bluff and Bearden middle schools — also have “great people” working to prepare students for high school band.

Connell added BHS band staff spends a lot of time making contact with rising freshmen and have already made contact with them this year to “get ’em excited about it.”

Connell said band is a fun thing to do and “word is spreading.”

Connell also attributed the “large” band to the Bulldog Band’s success over the past few years. Last year, the Band was grand champion at the Fountain City Invitational Marching Competition at Central High School, grand champion at the Volunteer Classic at Heritage High School and placed third at the Vanderbilt Marching Invitational, which included bands from six states.

It was a “great, great time,” Connell added.

Connell said the band is doing fine this year, but the program is “considerably harder than last year,” and it will mature later.

He added, “They’re not as good as they were at this time last year.”

He said the program is stretching the kids physically, but “it’s gonna be there.”

“Dances in Jazz” has a lot of “up tempo” movement while playing difficult passages, Connell added.

The Band needs to “step up to the challenge,” Connell said. “It’s easy to throw your hands up in the air conditioning and say we’re not ready. They gotta step up and get it done.”

The Band played one week earlier this year than last year beginning with the Knox County Exhibition Tuesday, Sept. 20, at South Doyle High School.

“Silly me,” Connell said.

In addition to Connell, the Bulldog Band staff includes: band director Megan Christian, assistants Mike Spirko, Valerie Sanders and Martie Boulton, percussion instructor Gavin Foster, color guard instructor Missi Denton, majorettes instructor Crystal Baine, visual coordinator Rusty Harmon and University of Tennessee student intern Jason Law.

The Bulldog Band also has an active Bearden High School Band Boosters, a parent support group for the band. The Band Boosters perform fund-raising activities and provide ongoing support for the students and the band directors before, during and after performances. This support includes maintenance of uniforms, moving performance equipment and providing refreshments and logistical support to the students.

The BHS Bulldog Band will compete in the Crossroads Marching Competition Saturday, Sept. 24, at Halls High School; the Greeneville Band Classic Saturday, Oct. 1, at Tusculum College; and the Smoky Mountain Invitational Saturday, Oct. 15, at South Doyle High School.

For more information on the BHS Bulldog Band, go to


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