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Hastings Marching Band takes the top honor at Youth in Music competition at Metrodome

The Hastings High School marching band is again the state champion.

It has been an “awesome” year for the marching band, according to director Emily Chandler’s. The season hit its high note Saturday afternoon at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

The band was named state champions for the second year in a row. They were also named first in their class and earned best percussion, winning a gift certificate from Innovative Percussion.

“This is a stand-alone event in Minnesota but we build on our previous shows,” said Chandler. In addition to Minnesota, other states represented were South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin.

The Metrodome field is a great place to have a competition because of the atmosphere, Chandler said. The overhead camera also is a plus, presenting each band’s show to the audience.

The Hastings band has competed at several of the recent Youth in Music shows and took tops honors last year, too.

The band is in the Class A (partially determined by the number of students in the band). There are also class AA and AAA with mid-size and larger bands.

“We practice twice a week the drill and music learned at band camp in July,” said Chandler. “Our summer parades are the building blocks for us. We learn the routines and drill. Our kids do buy into the hard work. “

The judges at the competition considered several things, said Chandler.

“They look at what we are doing — the product,” she said. “That’s half of it. But they also consider how we do it, how clean it is.”

Six areas are judged – two for the music, two for the visual aspects of the show, one for the percussion and one for the color guard.

During each band’s show, which last from six to nine minutes, the judges are actually making their own recording, giving feedback to the group.

“It is very specific,” said Chandler. “We have added new things each week because of the comments.”

At Saturday’s competition, all bands competed in the preliminary event. Hastings earned first place and went into the finals with the other first place bands in class AA and AAA, then the next seven highest scoring bands won a spot in finals. Hastings won first place against fiveother bands in their class. And that trend continued.

This competition was the last event for the band and it was an emotional goodbye for the seniors, said Chandler.

“The seniors say their goodbye to the others, and it is emotional,” Chandler said. “We are a family and the bond is there. I can’t describe the feeling, but the music brings it together and it is so heartfelt.”

While the accolades are nice, the sense of working hard together, coming together, having fun together and earning that confidence is so important, she said.

“They worked their tails off,” said Chandler.

She also praised the efforts of others who have helped along the way, including the parents.

“It has been a great year,” said one of those parents, Dick Stern. He has two daughters participating. He accompanied them to band camp this summer.

“They are hard-working and learning about many things,” Stern said.

Another one of those parents is Rick Hardy. This season is his fifth, with his second child participating.

“There is that confidence that the returning marchers brought from last year,” Hardy said. “I think that strongly played a part here and, hopefully, will be carried over, continued to next year.”

For now, it is about celebrating this year’s accomplishments.

“It is as exciting as last year,” said Chandler.

There are other instructors who bring their expertise to the marching band. They are Thomas Wentzler, co-director; Josh Wahlstrom and Joe Holmes, percussion; Amanda Flom, Alice Flom, Lindsey Wetterhahn and Melanie Cordell, color guard; Jake Bohlken, Elizabeth Hardy and Abbie Zuzek, visual; and Mark Diischer and Josh Wahlstrom,who wrote the percussion arrangements.