Marchers a feat
of precision

The marching band program at Moanalua High School has swallowed up two of my children. One has been regurgitated -- only to be swallowed up by a college marching program -- but the second remains caught up in the entrails of atten-huts, yes-sir-thank-you-sirs and late-night practices. Not to mention band camp, weekend drills and all that Friday night support of the football team.

Menehune Classic

A high school marching band festival that marks the beginning of the competitive season:

Moanalua High School, 2825 Ala Ilima St.

6 p.m. tomorrow

$5; $3 ages 5 to 18

At times, I fear I will never see her again.

I bring this up now, not as a self-indulgent display of "Isn't my life special?", but because tomorrow is the Menehune Classic, Moanalua High's first marching band festival.

This event marks the beginning of the tournament season. Yes, we have a season and it's intense, involving thousands of high school musicians who train ceaselessly for the sake of the 12-minute pageantry of halftime.

For the most part, tournament audiences are made up of friends and family of the marchers, and that amounts to a lot of people, but we'd like to invite the rest of the world to share the spectacle.

We realize that the rest of the world views marching band as a para-military activity that exists to fill time while the football team is in the locker room (we also know that lots of people head for the bathroom or the snack bar when our kids hit the field). But tomorrow night we'd like you to consider the pure entertainment value of this display of musicianship, precision and altheticism. (And if you don't think marching band is athletic, you try carrying a 39-pound tuba for the 3 1/2 miles of the Aloha Festivals Floral Parade.)

Moanalua High School's Marching Band practices at their football field for the Menehune Classic which begins at 6 p.m. tomorrow.

Nine high schools will participate in the Menehune Classic: Farrington, Iolani, Kahuku, Kailua, Kalani, Kapolei, Mililani, Moanalua and Roosevelt. They range from Kapolei's 2-year-old Hurricane Marching Band with 56 performers in their first festival, to the veteran Moanalua Menehune Marching Band and Color Guard, 209 strong (10 percent of the entire student body).

What will you see? Flags and rifles pitched sky-high, drum majors in perpetual motion and hundreds of kids snapping right, left and center with military precision. For parents who know that most teens cannot be trusted to keep their beds made, this is a source of wonderment.

What will you hear? The repertoire has come a long way from "Hawaii Five-O" and "Horse." Iolani will play a demanding jazz program, Moanalua will perform a version of Gustav Holst's "The Planets" and Kahuku has taken on Antonin Dvorak's "New World" Symphony. Remember that they'll be playing without music and on the move, all the notes memorized -- along with all those traffic patterns on the field.

The Moanalua band practices for 8 1/2 hours a week, all outside of class time, led by Elden Seta, whose dedication was recognized this week with a national teaching honor, the Milken Family Foundation Award. Their practice time rivals just about any high school sport, for far less recognition. They deserve an audience.

Come watch. Come see.

Coming up

OIA Marching Band Festival: Nov. 3, Aloha Stadium

Kamehameha Marching Band Tournament: Nov. 8, Kamehameha Schools

Rainbow Marching Band Tournament: Nov. 10, Aloha Stadium

Mililani Bandfest: Nov. 15, Mililani High School

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