Friday Night Bands: H.L. Bourgeois, Maintaining a Standard of Excellence

GRAY, LOUISIANA-- In the southern United States, high school marching bands usually are either show-style or corps style.  Often times, in a dominating football culture, the subtle beauty of a corps-style band can be lost to a disinterested crowd waiting for the second half of the game.

The difference:

Show-style marching bands are the main choice of the collegiate level.  They focus on a high stepping form along with playing the popular tunes on the radio, impressing the audiences with their flash and fare.  These bands, if done right can be so entertaining, that they can steal the show and away from the football game.

Corps-style bands model themselves after the professional drum and bugle corps.   These high school bands are very competitive at showcases.  There is no football team in sight at the various competitions, only "band-heads."  They use a rolling foot stride that varies according to the distance. Unlike Show-style bands, who often learn a different show every game, corps-style band build and perfect one single show every marching season.

High schools bands fall between these two ideologies of show-style and corps-style and often times, in a high school world of show-style popularity, it can be difficult to win the crowds....that is unless you are amazing!

The H.L. Bourgeois band is amazing, stellar and every bit of awesome.  They are the gold-standard of what a successful corps-style band should be.  This year they placed 8th in the state.

Terrebone, Parish is home to many corps-style bands and is a world away from the show-style bands of New Orleans.

Micheal Aucoin, the Director of Bands says, "It's always interesting to see my students see those bands and they look at them kind of like a unicorn... but to those bands in New Orleans, we are the ones that are different."

H.L. Bourgeois excels in delighting the crowds. This year's show was called Hollywood the City of Stars.  Not just anybody can be a celebrity.  It takes bravery.  Luckily, the braves are their mascot.

Gabriel George is a Junior in the band and a very accomplished saxophone player.  He is also one of the bands gifted soloists.  He says, "I think music itself is a form of bravery. Every time i step up on the stage for that solo, I have to be brave."

Carlie Youngblood is a senior and the Drum Major.  She says bravery is needed in every aspect of life.  "Going in to music, is a very brave thing to do. You have to be good, you have to play the parts and perform the roles that are given to you."

The young men and women of the band work at a very hard level and when they get together and make music, it's really something special.

"While we get judged for music and content and visuals, it's really fun whenever you hear the audience love what you've done," says Youngblood.

At the end of the year, there's a tradition where the section leaders and drum major write letters to their fellow students about how they've seen progression.   It's a symbolic step that prepares them for greatness.  Ask any musician, progressions are essential!

"They are funny, full of life, full of energy and full of joy. They really make the job well worth it," says Aucoin.

No matter if your high school band is corps or show-style, there is always one commonality.

"The band kids are the best kids on any campus in my opinion. They have an incredible amount of spirit. We are always striving for perfection but perfection is never attainable," says Aucoin.

Therefore, since perfection is never attainable, Aucoin's kids reach for the stars!