Buchanan Bucks Competitive High School Marching Band
by Thomas Hoyt
Being an alumna of high school bands along with drum & bugle corps, I certainly have an appreciation for school bands. Here in Buchanan, the High School Marching Band is no exception. The Buchanan High School Marching Band is a competitive marching band who competes in the state of Michigan as part of the Michigan Competing Band Association, or MCBA. Currently led by Deanna Russell and Casey Fitzpatrick, who serves as Band Aide, the marching band is preparing for the 2021 competitive marching band season.
Deanna Russell is a native of Three Oaks, MI, and an alumna of River Valley High School. She attended Southwestern Michigan College straight out of high school to earn her Associate of Arts degree as a music major, then transferred to Western Michigan University to earn her Bachelor of Music Education. She then took a job out in California as a band director before coming to Buchanan. What brought her to Buchanan was simply her roots in Michigan and the fact that her older sister is an alumna of Buchanan who played in the band as well. Mrs. Russell plays the clarinet as her primary instrument and plays the tenor saxophone. Mrs. Russell clearly enjoys what she does and only wants the very best for all her students. She recalls her most rewarding moments being the high school concert band earning straight ones at the Michigan School Band & Orchestra Association, or MSBOA, (band festival) two years ago. She was so pleased at how the band put out their best performance. She also remembers how the marching band qualified for the state finals of the MCBA competitive marching band season two years ago. Last year the COVID-19 pandemic presented many challenges that the bands overcame. Each band member got to experience what it is like to be a studio musician having to record their performance to be premiered later. The students had to be virtual and the band delivered. What especially pleased Mrs. Russell were the beginning band students of the sixth grade. They were given an assignment to “compose” a musical piece and record their performances. It is amazing how creative the young students are and what they are able to accomplish.
Casey Fitzpatrick is a native of White Lake, MI, over on the eastern side of the state. She also attended Western Michigan University where she earned her Bachelor of Music Education. She has also participated in Winter Guard International and Drum Corps International where she played in the front ensemble. Miss Fitzpatrick plays the flute as her primary instrument and plays percussion. This experience has provided her with much to offer her students. After various jobs, she saw the job posting from Mary Claire Reynolds, who was the former Band Aide of the Buchanan Bands. This is the first year here at Buchanan and she looks forward to seeing what these amazing students have to offer.
Playing with the Buchanan Band is no easy task, but very rewarding. Prior to Mrs. Russell taking the reins, the band was led by Mark Hollandsworth who is now the Director of Bands at Southwestern Michigan College. Mr. Hollandsworth started the Buchanan Bands down a path to excellence that has brought the band to where it is now. Following in his footsteps is not an easy task according to Mrs. Russell. She has accepted the challenge and has done well. The marching band spends just as much time to prepare for their competitive season as any of the other fall high school sports. You could say that members of the marching band are musical athletes. The marching band began in July with sectionals learning the music and getting it just right. Then the band spends a week at band camp learning the drill and getting the show performance ready. In addition, the band spends extra rehearsal time in the evenings cleaning the show as much as possible so they can perform it the very best they can. All this for a performance that only lasts about 6-8 minutes. Indeed, the band works very hard. So when the band takes the field at halftime during football games, please be courteous while they perform and certainly show your appreciation for their hard work.
Mrs. Russell has stepped up to the plate and delivered a fantastic band program. She’d like to say, “Thank you so much to the Buchanan Community for their support of the band.”
Stay tuned for future articles on our band students.