The Natives are Restless

The Natives are Restless

by Susan Neuhalfen

Sure we love our football in Texas, but just as important to many is the halftime show. Marching band halftime performances have become an art form. Not only have the bands become more competitive musically, their shows have become productions of a Broadway caliber.

In only his second year as Director of Bands for The Colony High School, Michael Larkin has brought his own brand of creativity to the field. After spending six years in Florida, he was excited to lead a North Texas band.

“This district is one of the best districts you can teach in as far as music education,” said Larkin. “Texas is known to have some of the best music and band programs in the country.”

In his first year at TCHS, Larkin came in after the show was created, but this year, he started with a fresh idea and then brought in the rest of the staff to plan their show for this year. According to Larkin, everyone on his staff has a say in the show, it’s truly a team effort.

“We had a standing room only meeting back in April,” said Larkin enthusiastically. “We presented the idea and we got everyone on board. We rallied the students and parents and everyone was excited.”

Marching rehearsals started in April with a series of spring camps and rehearsals throughout the summer. Mandatory band camp started August 1. The theme for the show is “The Rite of Passage” and the scene is tribal, based on the Maori tribe in New Zealand. The show begins with a call to battle, the battle itself and then a celebration of the warrior’s life.

“One of my first shows was a native American show,” said Larkin. “I used what I learned from that show to make the changes that I really wanted to make this show a success.”

The show begins with some students hidden who then come running onto the field to square off with their opponent. It is choreographed in the tradition of the Maori Haka dance, a traditional war dance designed to scare the opponent before battle. Then there is the battle itself followed by a more lyrical section, paying respect to the fallen warrior.

“The end is the celebration of the warrior’s life,” said Larkin. “The students really love it.”

Because there are so many things that go into the show, the show will not be complete until the last week of the season. What crowds at football games are seeing now isn’t the finished product. That’s why Larkin encourages everyone to watch each week to see what they’ve added and changed.

“The performance is never completely ready until the very last show,” said Larkin. “It will be in its final form for the area and state competitions.”

The Colony High School Marching Band will have its first competition the first weekend in October. From there, the band will have multiple performances and competitions, tweaking the show and the music along the way. Luckily for Larkin, he has not only a dedicated group of students, he has an amazing team of parents as well.

“The band parents are fantastic,” said Larkin. “They work all year round for us, just non-stop.”

Larkin said that the parents are a key component in the success of the band. It’s vital for parents and as well as the community to support music education and support the students. He encourages the parents to not only show up for multiple shows, but to come to the rehearsals as well.

“They should see how hard these kids work at rehearsal,” said Larkin. “Showing up, whether at practice or at a performance, makes the students feel special.”

As for Larkin, he’s just excited to showcase his students’ hard work.

“Every show is a new production,” said Larkin. “I get up every morning to continue to work with the students, make music, and continue to develop the show.”

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