Texas is famous for football and all that goes with it — the players, the fans, the cheerleaders, the drill team and, of course, the band.
This year, not only do those legendary stadium lights shine bright at the McKinney Boyd High School Bronco football games, but so does each marching instrumentalist within the McKinney Boyd Bronco Band as they march in this year’s halftime show titled "Fireworks!"
This one-of-a-kind marching band show features the music of Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky as computer-generated effects of LED lighting create the pièce de résistance of the 2012 MBHS marching show. As the band plays, the lights blink in time to the music and augment the performance.
Unveiled for the first time at Ron Poe Stadium during the Sept. 21 homecoming game, the band’s marching show drew positive, audible responses from Bronco fans.
According to band members Jenelle Guereca, a junior, and Arzoo Bains, a sophomore, the entire band could see their illuminated reflection in the press box that night.
“I couldn’t stop smiling! It was hard to play,” said Guereca.
“The kids at school said that our show was incredible…and breath-taking -- literally!” added Bains.
MBHS Band Director Joe Nuñez had envisioned the band in lights a little over a year ago.
“I knew that I wanted to do a show someday with the theme of fireworks," Nuñez said. "I had a few pieces of music in mind that would work for that theme, but I hadn’t put everything in place yet.”
One of the missing elements for such a show was the lighting. Fortunately, an MBHS band booster led Mr. Nuñez to band parent Andy Cordell, who would make this vision a reality.
Cordell, an electrical engineer specializing in robotics, had his own thoughts about lighting the band in 2010. Once Nuñez and Cordell were brought together, the vision became a possibility. According to Cordell, the band board approved the idea in May 2012.
With a September deadline, Cordell began researching lighting options immediately. His research led him to a German lighting company that manufactures a small disc of LED lights that could be mounted on the marching hats and run by a remote computer. He also worked on a custom solution to light up the sousaphones and drums.
Cordell placed an order for the LED discs in June, only to have the company inform him in July that they wouldn’t be able to supply those lights in time for marching season. A new plan had to be put into place. Cordell and the band directors decided to implement a custom solution to be used on the sousaphones and drums for the entire band.
This new idea went into action quickly. MBHS Band Booster Board member Darrell Heinrichs helped Cordell gather at least 25 volunteers to expedite the project. These volunteers worked two eight-hour Saturdays, assembling LED light strips and attaching them to each band member’s hat. Several parent volunteers took items home with them and worked up to 40 additional hours during the week.
“We had to build everything from scratch since there isn’t currently a market for lighting up a marching band,” Heinrichs said. “We had parents doing everything from soldering to sewing. We really have a wonderful group of parent volunteers in this band. It only took two emails to get all of the help that we needed for this project.”
Programming the light show so that it would coincide with the band’s music from a remote computer was a two-month task, completed solely by Jason Myers, Assistant Band Director and Color Guard Instructor for the MBHS Band.
“There are 50-60 different light effects in the show, and it took two to three hours to design each effect,” Myers said. “I run the computer-generated effects manually for each show because they are executed based on how the music is being played.”
Once the lighting and programming was in place, it was time for "Fireworks" to begin.
MBHS band students had been rehearsing the music and marching formations for hours upon hours throughout the summer and school year, and on Sept. 21, the diligence of the directors, students and band parents officially paid off. The performance went off without a hitch -- and the band members were thrilled. High-fives and cheers were shared all around by everyone who had worked tirelessly for that moment.
After the initial LED performance, many band supporters congratulated Andy Cordell for his outstanding volunteer efforts. When asked how it felt to have played such a large role in this year’s MBHS marching show, Cordell simply stated, “Like all the parents involved, I am thrilled to have made a contribution to what was already an amazing show.”
Since the band’s premiere performance of "Fireworks," Director Joe Nuñez, Associate Director Steve Lisko and Assistant Directors Derek Stoughton and Jason Myers have led the MBHS Bronco Band to a seventh-place finish at the Plano East Marching Competition on Oct. 6, and its seventh consecutive UIL Sweepstakes Award on Oct. 13.
This UIL Sweepstakes Award allows the MBHS Bronco Band to advance to the Area Marching Band Competition on Oct. 27.
For a complete list of the band’s remaining performances in the 2012 marching season, visit the McKinney Boyd Band website at www.boydband.com.
About the author: Stefani Lackey is Publicity Chairwoman for the McKinney Boyd Bronco Band.