Harper Woods High School hosts annual marching band expo

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published October 5, 2016

 The Center Line High School marching band takes part in Band-O-Rama and receives positive marks from the judges. Each band taking part was invited to perform its halftime show and compare routines with the other participating schools.

The Center Line High School marching band takes part in Band-O-Rama and receives positive marks from the judges. Each band taking part was invited to perform its halftime show and compare routines with the other participating schools.

Photo by John McTaggart

HARPER WOODS — For 22 years, Harper Woods High School has hosted an event to showcase some of southeast Michigan’s best high school marching bands and provide those bands with a chance to grow and improve.

The event is called Band-O-Rama, and Harper Woods High School brought in six local bands Sept. 24 to play their best tunes and show off their tightest formations on the school’s football field. The event served as a preliminary expo for the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association’s competitive season.

“It’s an opportunity for bands to get some practice and some constructive judgment in for when they compete in Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association competitions later in the season,” said Mary Hall-Rayford, the Harper Woods High School Band Boosters treasurer and one of the event’s coordinators. “The bands can work on their show and assess their musical performance and coordination.”

From a humble beginning, Band-O-Rama has grown into one of the highlights of the season for several local bands.

“When it started 22 years ago, Band-O-Rama was a fundraiser for the band,” said Hall-Rayford. “Harper Woods has a very good, but a very small, band. This idea grew and appealed to other bands because it is a good way for them to prepare for competitions in October. Bands are judged on total performance of the band in music and coordination, the skill of their drum majors, their band leader, and more.”

The bands taking part in this year’s Band-O-Rama included the Anchor Bay High School marching band, the Berkley Bear High School marching band, the Troy High School Troy Colt marching band, the Fraser High School Ramblers marching band, the Center Line High School marching band and the Clawson High School marching band. The Harper Woods marching band did not perform this year, since it just got a new band director this fall. 

“I’ve been taking the Fraser band to Band-O-Rama for 17 years, and I took the East Detroit band there a few times when I taught there, so I’ve been attending this event for 20 years,” said Fraser High School Band Director Jim Rogers. “It’s a great opportunity to showcase the band and get some good comments and feedback from the judges. They also tape the band, so we can review our performance and see how we can improve.”

The Troy High School marching band, led by Brian Nutting, has performed at the event for the last 10 years.

“We are a noncompetitive band. We do perform at all home games, three marching invitationals and at (the) MSBOA marching band festival,” said Nutting. “It provides the opportunity for a large group of hardworking, passionate and highly skilled student musicians to share the fruits of their labor with appreciative supporters. We also receive comments and input from adjudicators to improve future performances.”