“There was a mass band with 15 to 20 other bands involved and during halftime, after the Oklahoma band and Alabama band did their halftime show, then all of the mass band, which was comprised of about 500 to 600 people ... performed a Beatles show,” Band Director Mack Roberts, who had been away from CHS due to illness since the beginning of the semester, said Wednesday. “... It was a tribute to the 50th anniversary of The Beatles and we played ‘Lady Madonna,’ ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ and ‘I Saw him Standing There.’”
Roberts said the band submitted its application last year, was selected to perform, then began working on the music and choreography during November and December.
“We practiced our music and got all of our music ready, the [colorguard] worked with [a] YouTube video and got their routine together. We had two practices, one at a high school on New Year’s morning ... and then on Jan. 2, the day of the Sugar Bowl, we practiced that morning ... in the Superdome,” Roberts said.
He said he was proud of his students’ performance.
“They did great. It takes [the] full eight hours of practice they had [to tie] this all together, especially the amount of sound when you’ve got between 400 and 600 people out there, the amount of sound it produces and trying to get everybody to play together precision-wise created some problems, but it’s one of those things where the more they practiced and the more the group practiced as a whole, the better it got until it was really in good shape by the time the game rolled around to halftime,” Roberts said.
He said because students had to pay for a portion of the trip, about 75 percent of members were able to attend.
“My band boosters did a tremendous job of raising funds to help offset some of the students’ expenses, some of our kids raised every bit of the money that they needed for their part of the trip and some just paid it all,” Roberts said.
Beyond the Sugar Bowl performance, band members were able to soak in some New Orleans culture during the excursion. Roberts said the trip was an excellent learning experience for students.
“It was wonderful. We did several things, we went on a swamp tour while we were down there and we also did a river boat dinner cruise, but the educational part of just being at a big-time football game atmosphere may have prompted some of the kids to continue playing in the band at the college level after they leave high school,” Roberts said. “... With it being such a big game between Oklahoma and Alabama, ... just being able to see those college bands, witness that huge stadium there at the Superdome in New Orleans, and all of the excitement that took place was a learning experience for the kids and playing in a band that was really big, which most of the college bands today have gotten up to  or 300 [members], and so that was a remarkable learning experience for the kids.”
Sophomore Alexis Moser is a member of the band’s colorguard. She said the trip was her first time to go to New Orleans and she enjoyed the experience.
“It was kind of hard [learning the routine from a YouTube video], but the routine was easy enough to get it all [done],” Moser said. “[Performing] was amazing. You just got this rush of adrenaline when you’d walk out on the field.
“There were nervous feelings, but it was really good overall.”
Senior Alex Cochran, who began playing trombone as a Colonel during middle school, said while performing with a mass band was a challenge, he enjoyed working with such a large group.
“[I enjoyed] the practice itself and just being amongst people who can actually play their music very well ..., you kind of fall in love with it,” Cochran said.
Cochran said he plans to try out for the Kennesaw State University’s symphonic band.