SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – The Washington High School marching band has faced several challenges going into the new competition season including a change of directors, canceled practices due to the heat and a sole drum major. 

Despite the setbacks, the Marching Warriors are optimistic about the new season and their show, “Becoming Medusa.” Their new director, Terrence Kenny, is a Washington High School graduate and played the trumpet in the marching band. Kenny said he’s excited to be back at his alma mater and carry on the traditions of the band. 

“I think all the bands in this town have really strong traditions, but I think Washington definitely shows that, especially just with the community and the parental involvement,” Kenny said. 

According to some of the upperclassmen students, the band director left abruptly last year which made them concerned about the future of the band. Natalia Loaeza, a junior alto saxophone player, said the transition to the new director has gone smoothly and the band has accepted him. 

“I like the way that he teaches,” Loaeza said. “He’ll have us do something over and over and over and over until we get it down and it feels like we’re really getting stuff done well. I really like that he’s fun and upbeat.”

Kenny’s debut as the Washington Warriors band director started with the annual band camp in July. This year’s camp looked different not just because of the new director, but the extremely hot days this summer has caused the band to adjust their rehearsal schedule on more than one occasion.

Washington was scheduled to participate in the Roosevelt clinic August 19 where bands from around the area learn from professional musicians during the day and perform a preview of their shows for the public. Originally, ten bands were set to attend the clinic, but with a heat advisory in effect, only three bands performed and the clinic was cut short. 

“Excited to show what we can do even though we had all these setbacks,” Loaeza said. “We can put on a good show even if we didn’t have two clinics with hours and hours of practice that we missed.”

Their Monday and Tuesday rehearsal this week was also pushed inside as heat index values reached 110 degrees. Noah Glau, a junior drum major, said the fire department came one day during camp and sprayed the kids with the cold water from their fire trucks for almost half an hour. 

The heat isn’t the only thing Glau has had to tackle this marching season. As a junior, he is the only drum major for the band and has no prior conducting experience. 

When Glau was a freshman, the band had three drum majors, but last year they went down to one. The sole drum major last year had done the position before and had the benefit of upperclassmen drum majors showing her the ropes. Glau has none of that. 

“Even though this role is very hard, I took it up because I really care about this band,” he said. “I can see it in every student that they can succeed and create something really beautiful.”

Glau has had to learn how to conduct and be a leader all before the summer started. Kenny said he’s impressed with how Glau has taken on the role and had assumed, just by the way Glau handles the ensemble and his professionalism, that the student was a senior. The frontline currently doesn’t have a section leader, so Glau has also been working with those students outside of rehearsal time.  

“He’s definitely stepped up and been a very, very big leader in this group, especially as a junior in his first year doing this role,” Kenny said. “I think he’s just trying to show what he’s capable of and prepare himself for next year when he’s going to be training on the new drum majors that come in.”