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IT'S ALL ABOUT THE SHOW: BHS Marching Band Takes Field in Salem

A collection of memories and observations of the BHS Marching Band performances through the years.


This is the year of lasts for me. 

In what is the "first of the lasts," I attended my 11th and final Salem Marching Band Invitational in New Hampshire this past weekend as a BHS parent along with 3,000+ of my closest marching band friends and aficionado.

The Salem Marching Band Invitational is a rare event at which our band students, dance squad and flag corps perform for a stadium filled to the max. Most of the bands over the past years have hailed from New Hampshire, with an occasional band from Maine. Burlington is the only group from Massachusetts to perform in recent years. Reminiscing about the past ten performances in Salem, I’d like to share some fond memories and observations.

Size never counts! There have been marching bands as diminutive as 30 and as gargantuan as 350 members. No matter the size, each and every group has worked its hardest to come to this moment in time where their performance holds the attention of every musician and spectator. These bands are always fantastic!

Why can’t we be friends? It doesn’t matter who is seated next to you, every parent shares in the joy of the next, cheering and whooping it up for every marching ensemble. It is quite a unique experience, one of which (and I'm quite sure about this) our own band members are unaware. We point out our own students, talk about previous years and, well, be just who we are . . . proud parents!

R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Aretha may never know how much this word has meant to the student musicians who take the field. Marching routines are always performed with nary a movement or sound in the stands. In fact, I remember being a bit startled at this during the first year I attended. 

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! How true! Those of us who have attended a few of the Salem events have noticed that the innovative style of the BHS band has returned to the Invitational in subsequent years. 

The show must go on! Sometimes there are near disasters. I will never forget the year we had a mishap with transportation, necessitating students, instruments, hats and plumes to cram into cars for the trip! My drive up to Salem included passing cars crammed with red and white, with brass instruments filling the voids!

Instruments abound! For a few years we have seen and placed our own extended percussion ensembles on the field and sideline of the Salem Invitational, hauled in on large rolling barges! But it’s pretty safe to say that Burlington has become the innovator once again by introducing a full section of electric guitars, powered by a high-voltage car battery. Oh yeah, that’ll be picked up next year!

Neither rain, nor sleet nor . . . ! Still fresh in my memory was the nearly ill-fated invitational when the skies opened up prior to the event and it had to be moved into the gymnasium of Salem High School. Never fear. The BHS band hastily revamped its marching routine in the hallway just prior to their entrance and dazzled everyone.

Dancin', Dancin', DANCIN'! They’re a dancing machine! As the years have passed, dancing moves have crept into marching band routines, where the shyest of  students can be seen dipping and swaying to the music.  I'm quite certain BHS had a lot to do with that with their routines over the years! Adding special pizzazz is the BHS Dance Squad, the only one of its kind that has impressed spectators throughout the years! This year's rolling line of splits was greeted enthusiastically with cheers from the crowd! 

Written in a "Major" key! BHS has always had drum majors who possess the unique talent of holding the performance at the tip of the baton. These young students are true leaders and it's been a kick to watch them develop between junior and senior year. This year has been even more unique because it is the only time (to my knowledge) that both positions are held by young men. Congratulations to senior Andrew Frost and junior Eddie Gelberg.

BHS Flags: The fabric of our lives! The BHS Flag Corps has always provided flash and backdrop with their twirling athleticism on the field. Snapping and twirling with the rhythms on the field, their colorful displays are always the accessory to the music, like the loveliest of jewels on a beautiful garment.

Something to which we can aspire. There is no question that our marching band students have been part of a remarkable event at the Salem Invitational. Their participation has always given them an opportunity to see what and how other schools are performing. Not only have they seen peers from other schools, they have also been given an opportunity to see how the colleges perform when the UMass Lowell and the University of New Hampshire alternate performance years. 

My love affair with the music program in Burlington continues. There is no other organization that fosters more complete and total acceptance. It's a real boost for the student's self-esteem and a total kick for the parents. too!

I purchased a pin at the Salem Marching Band Invitational concession stand that pretty much sums it up:


One day football will be played at half time!


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