T.F. Riggs High School’s ‘Emerald Regiment’ is in its third year as an award-winning competitive marching band.
“The program has been pushing towards this point for many years,” said Jensen. “It’s a side of the band not many people in this area are aware of. Competitive marching band is a whole different ‘thing’,” said Mackenzie Jensen, T.F. Riggs band director.
“We put int many long hours before school, including a camp prior to the school year starting. We rehearse Mondays through Thursdays at 7 a.m. Wednesday practice is at the Hollister football stadium and track by the Georgia Morse Middle School, so we can work on parade & marching on a different field. Our first competition this school year is Friday, Sept. 27 in Chamberlain,” said Jensen.
“There has been a band in existence for as long as I am aware of Riggs being a school,” said Jensen. “The same with the marching band. I know Larry Johnson had a strong program.”
Jensen started as the Riggs band director in 2013. Before her, for five years was Bethany Amundson. Before that, Larry Johnson was the music director for more than 20 years.
Jensen is the sole director of the competitive marching band, while Jennifer Kirkpatrick coaches the color guard (flag coach), the non-musical section that provides additional visual aspects to a performance. Student flag captains are Maddy Sayer and Brooke Allison, the drum major is Jasmine Rounds and the drumline captain is Hayden Sayer.
“This is our third year doing competitive field marching. I know Larry had his students do a parade or two in his time. Field competition and parade competition are quite different,” said Jensen.
“Our first year we won mini-field and got fourth in parade. Last year we won mini-field and parade at Chamberlain, and earned sixth overall in parade at Yankton,” said Jensen. When asked, Jensen said there is a difference between a mini-field versus a full-field, but “...to be honest, that competition never had a clear distinction of which was which,” admitted Jensen.
“This year we have 44 total students. This includes players and color guard. One must volunteer and commit to being a member,” said Jensen.
Currently there are nine seniors, 13 juniors, five sophomores, 15 freshmen and two eighth graders.
“The biggest thing to note is that this is our first year as an all voluntary group. In the past, marching band has been a requirement, and was done after Homecoming. The program had been struggling until these changes started being made.”
The competitive marching band performed at Homecoming on Sept. 13, and will perform again Oct. 11, at their senior night.
The band has incorporated some ‘props.’
“We have three flat building fronts that look like they are from New Orleans,” said Jensen. “We have a recording that plays prior to the actual drill starting. The band starts by hiding behind the building props, then emerging during the recording, acting almost like they are sight-seeing in New Orleans. The buildings/props and recording are kind of a ‘stage setting’ technique or ‘mood setter’,” said Jensen.
“We raise funds to help with props, bonding activities, travel, and color guard equipment,” said Jensen. “Band is covered in the school’s budget, but the competitive part of marching band takes more money. For example, field frames for backdrops — which we are hoping to purchase eventually — can cost up to $200 a frame, and that’s without the backdrop itself. This year the drama department allowed us to use wood from their set room to build frames for our backdrops. It’s not that we don’t have any funding; the school does a wonderful job of making sure we have the funds we need for the band. But, what we are hoping to do and what we want is much more than what we have.”