Burnet’s Esprit de Corps sees success beyond the marching contests

Aaron Arbaugh (left), Hayden Bilbrey, Trinity Frost and Dylan Livingston get ready for the 2015 Burnet High School Esprit de Corps season.

DANIEL CLIFTON • EDITOR

BURNET — Burnet High School band director Jason Jones has a problem. You see, when band practices started the last week of July, he found himself with 40 new freshmen. And that’s on top of the returning sophomores, juniors and seniors.

That put Burnet marching band numbers about 20 over last year. Jones, however, realizes this is a good problem to have. In fact, thanks to the student band leaders, it really hasn’t been a problem but a blessing.

“Yeah, it’s been great,” Jones said. “We’ve had a great first few days of practice. And we’re really looking to build on last year.”

Last year, the Burnet High School Esprit De Corps, which includes the band, the Highlandettes drill team and the color guard, advanced to the University Interscholastic League state marching contest in San Antonio. Since this is a non-advancing year for 4A schools, one might think the Burnet band members are feeling a bit of a letdown.

Not so, Jones said.

When Burnet fans watch the Burnet High School Esprit de Corps perform Aug. 28 during halftime of the first football game, they’ll see the precision marching and musicianship they’ve come to expect from the group. What they won’t see are the countless hours of practice put in by members such as Kelley Mobley (front), Jennifer Lopez and Samantha Allsup.
When Burnet fans watch the Burnet High School Esprit de Corps perform Aug. 28 during halftime of the first football game, they’ll see the precision marching and musicianship they’ve come to expect from the group. What they won’t see are the countless hours of practice put in by members such as Kelley Mobley (front), Jennifer Lopez and Samantha Allsup.

“We tell the kids that the state marching contest isn’t what this is all about,” Jones said. “It’s about doing their very best every time they go out there.”

That practice of “doing their very best” is something Jones hopes the kids take beyond band and high school. While music and marching are a big part of band, it’s not the only things Jones and his assistant band directors teach. Students might not even realize they’re learning many of the lessons until they put away their band instruments and begin another journey in life, whether a career or parenting.

“Band teaches so much. It teaches kids how to get along with others and work together,” Jones said. “It helps them develop leadership skills that they can use well after their four years in band are over.

“When their four years here are done, they still have 40 or 50 years as an adult working in a job or career where they will be working with others. And that’s a skill they learn in band and practice right here,” Jones added. “I’ve always thought band isn’t just about what they use here but what they take with them and use the rest of their lives and, hopefully, pass on to their kids.”

Burnet High School band member MegAnn Nail rehearses during a sectional practice.
Burnet High School band member MegAnn Nail rehearses during a sectional practice.

This week’s lesson probably focuses a lot of hard work as the Burnet band begins learning or re-learning marching skills that they’ll apply to this year’s halftime show, “Mystique.” The show is based on Cirque du Soleil. Recreating the Cirque du Soleil experience on the football field takes a great partnership between the band and the Highlandettes.

“There’s a lot of emotion in it,” Jones said. “It has this mystery — this mystique. There’s no real story behind it, more of a theme.”

While the band will master the music and marching, the Highlandettes provide the dance and visual elements that bring the entire experience home for the fans.

Aaron Arbaugh (left), Hayden Bilbrey, Trinity Frost and Dylan Livingston get ready for the 2015 Burnet High School Esprit de Corps season.
Aaron Arbaugh (left), Hayden Bilbrey, Trinity Frost and Dylan Livingston get ready for the 2015 Burnet High School Esprit de Corps season.

Getting to that point, however, starts at 8 a.m. for the band as they begin their marching practice. And it’s not just marching. Jones and the band staff put the musicians through a morning workout to help get them in shape for the season. The leaders also stress the importance of eating right and drinking water (and not so many sodas.)

“It’s already made a difference,” Jones said.

Then, it’s working on the marching in the morning followed by more music rehearsals inside during the heat of the day.

“The kids have just been amazing,” he said. “We’re really excited about this year. We’re going to a couple of marching contests in early October to expose the kids to some really great 5A and 6A bands. We have a tremendous group of students, and I think people are going to see that on Friday nights.”

The first football game is Aug. 28 when the Burnet Bulldogs host the Marble Falls Mustangs at Bulldog Field at 7:30 p.m.

To keep up with the Burnet High School Esprit De Corps, follow its Facebook page at facebook.com/burnetband or via Twitter @BurnetEDC.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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