Starkville Academy band marches at Disney World

The Starkville Academy band had the opportunity to travel to Disney World in January and participated in the "You're Instrumental" clinic, which put their recording into a Disney movie. (Submitted photo)
Staff Writer

The Starkville Academy Band travelled to Disney World in January to attend the "You're Instrumental" workshop and march in the daily parade.

Band director Haley Harper said the band learned "Trash the Camp," "It's a Small World," “Can You Feel the Love Tonight" and songs from other Disney movies.

The band was recorded playing "I See the Light" from "Tangled" and then the band's recording was plugged into the movie.

"The coolest thing was that the band mostly sight read most of their music, and by the end of the night, they were able to put the band's recording of a Disney song into a real Disney movie," Harper said.

Drum Major Madeline Kelly said the clinic helped the band learn to be more independent, and the clinician didn't help band members with notes or rhythms, only how to sound better overall.

"He didn't tell them 'You need to fix this here and this there'. They had to do it independently without realizing they did it," Harper said. "So it helped them grow as players. They were stronger players after that, and I'm really proud of their musicianship."

The Starkville Academy band also led the parade in front of the floats, and they performed the "Mickey Mouse March" and the Starkville Academy fight song.

"It was a big deal," Harper said. "We got a trophy from it and we all got Mickey Mouse ears. It was awesome. It was the best experience."

Kelly said while she was marching, she could see people lining the streets videoing the band and cheering them along, which was unexpected but exciting.

"We didn't expect it at all," Kelly said. "We were just excited to march in front of the castle. We weren't expecting people to be clapping and cheering us on."

Harper said every time the band turned a corner during the parade, the emcee would announce the band, which made her proud to bring recognition to Starkville Academy and the city of Starkville.

"It was like 'here we come, from little Starkville, Mississippi.' It was so cool to make a name for ourselves," Harper said.

Marching in the parade was a unforgettable experience, Harper said, because the other band in the parade was at least twice the size of the Starkville Academy band.

"Most of the high school bands that do it are 150 to 200 people bands. And for our little band to be able to do it with just 25 people was a really big deal to us," Harper said.

Kelly said the band was done with the parade around 3:30 p.m., and then they were able to stay in the Magic Kingdom until midnight because it was a late night at the park.

"We got to see the fireworks show, and then on the last night at in Hollywood Studios we got to see the laser show on the water," Kelly said "It was so much fun, and a lot more magical that I thought it would be."

While on the trip, the band got to visit every park except one, and Kelly said Magic Kingdom was her favorite part of the trip.

"My favorite part of the whole trip was the parade, because just walking down the street and seeing our band looking like professionals or college students," Harper said. "I was just beaming from ear to ear. I was so proud."

Harper said two sixth grade band members, Allee and Aleeah Shuffield, also got to attend the trip and carried the banner during the parade as well as attended the clinic, and volunteer and chaperone Richard Tollison attended the trip.

Harper said the Starkville Academy band began the application process for the Disney World trip in June. The band had to submit videos of the band playing and photos of their uniforms and then wait several weeks to find out if they were accepted.

Once the band was accepted, they prepared and practiced for the trip for months, at one time practicing for the winter concert, football season and the Disney World trip all at one time.

Harper said the band did some fundraising for the trip but parents covered most of the cost, and Disney offered group rates that made the trip affordable.

Harper and Kelly both agreed that the hard work preparing for the trip was worth it, and the band is already considering another trip to Disney World in 2020.