By DAVID HUNTER/ The Cannon Courier
The Cannon County High School Band, under the direction of Robert Guffey, is a small but growing unit in both numbers and sound.
But football and music fans can expect them to sound even stronger at the upcoming Homecoming football game thanks to a few members of the MTSU Band of Blue. Those MTSU performers, including one former CCHS band student, will be sounding out along the high school band.
"That is going to be amazing, because they are experienced players," sophomore clarinet and saxophone band member Malea Franklin said. "Even through, we are a small town band. It is going to be cool to have all of those players coming in to make us sound louder and more coherent."
Senior drummer Jacob Stone added, "It is going to be very cool."
Stone has seen the MTSU Band of Blue in action at football and basketball games, so he is ready to perform with them during the game against Smith County on Friday, September 30.
In the meantime, the 40-plus member strong, CCHS band has been hard at work getting ready to perform at home football and basketball games, concerts and other events around the county.
"It is a blast," Guffey said. "At football games we are there to have fun, and get the crowd into it. We play off the cheerleaders and cheer the team on. That is our job. Concert bands are awesome, because that is where you see the growth musically in the students."
Nothing beats looking up in the stands at basketball and football games and hearing a loud sound of music, especially when the team on the field or court and the fans needs to be pumped up, or praised for something positive on the field of play. It is part of the job of the band along with honoring the United States flag with their playing of the national anthem before each game.
Performing in front of big crowd either at sporting events, or local concerts brings a mix of nervousness by being in front of them, but once the music hits these band members are in the zone like the athletes they play in front of during the fall and winter months each school year.
"It is nerve racking, but it is also really fun," freshman percussion player Autumn Bullock said. "You know everyone is watching you, and you really cannot mess up. Just knowing a bunch of your friends are seeing you doing something where everyone else is watching you is pretty cool."
Franklin added, "It is a little bit nerve racking, because I get nervous before playing. Once you start playing it is a little bit better, because you are in your own little world playing music."
A typical Friday night home game in Woodbury for these players, include walking down the hill playing music as the football team and the cheerleaders are with them do as part of the Lions Pride Walk before they take the field. Then, the band sets up on the platform in front of the home bleachers for maybe the most important job of the night performing the national anthem. Finally, they head up to their special section in the stands, which they will stay during the football game.
Guffey ultimate goal is to get enough band members in the near future, so they can also take part in a crowd favorite, the halftime performance on the football field. However, he wants his current members to gain more experience playing the instruments along with learning the set list of songs, which is played during the games.
The school does not have an official fight song, but instead the band plays to the University of Michigan fight song any time the Lions do something positive on the field, including scoring. Other selections by the band, which you hear on Friday nights, including the theme song from "Rocky," following along with the cheerleaders, and they are currently working on a techno version of music from the popular video game, "Mortal Kombat."
Since CCHS is in Class AA, a lot of students take part in several extracurricular activities, including some of the athletes, who not only play a couple of sports, but they are also is a member of the band. Three of those are the freshman Blanco twins, Angela and Amanda, who play soccer and cross country, while Bullock literally has double duty during football games.
While most of the band is wearing special uniforms, Bullock performs in her cheerleading outfit since she does both along with playing on the volleyball team. For her it is a lot to learn three different act ivies to go along with making the transition to high school this year.
"It takes a little bit to learn everything, but it also has a benefit," Bullock said. "A bunch of the band dances that the cheerleaders have is easier to learn and practice with in band. Once you hear it and get the beat down, it is easier to memorize the dance that goes with it."
All three of them usually has some type of practice or games every day, including having to pick and choose which ones to attend. However, Guffey wants the true student-athletes to get the most out of their high school experience.
"I have no problem with it. No matter what sport you do, in here you are one of my band students," Guffey said. "I want these young ladies and gentlemen to get as much out of high school as they can. So, if they can do two or three sports and music. I think it will serve them well throughout their life."
As for the growth of the CCHS band in the future, he hopes to increase the numbers down the road by getting elementary students interested by them performing at the schools the same way he got into it while a fifth grade student at Lebanon, the middle school band performed for them. He was hooked, and he played for Lebanon High School, in college at Cumberland, and now he has been leading the CCHS band in his eighth school year.