HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The band program at West Harrison High School has a few reasons to toot its own horn, which is a good thing because they now have some new horns to toot.
The school’s Pride of Mississippi marching band received $30,000 worth of music instruments, all courtesy of Yamaha.
In addition to its level of performance, the marching band has many reasons to be proud. With a trip to New York for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade under their belts, they’ve now tried out and been accepted to march in the Tournament of Roses Parade.
Now that the band has finished this year’s marching and concert seasons, school officials decided that badly-needed instruments had to be purchased. However, with band booster coffers maxed out for the trip to California early next year, they were faced with choices.
That’s when former Hurricane Band Percussion Director Ayatey Shabazz stepped in.
“I’m really good friends with the guys at Yamaha,” Shabazz said. “One day in their office in California, we were talking about what can we do to help schools better themselves. So I didn’t have anyone else in mind other than West Harrison.”
Because of Shabazz’s passion for music education, Yamaha District Manager Scott Slocum said that the choice of which school was to receive the donation was easy.
“Anytime a kid has a new instrument or something without any flaws, without any problems," Slocum said, "it seems to give them a little more confidence.”
Yamaha donated a set of portable timpani and five marching French horns to the school to replace ones that were in desperate need of replacement. Now that the school has the instruments, they can focus funds to getting the students to California.
According to school officials, the Hurricane Band will be the second band in the state to have ever performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Rose Parade.
This is a great boost of confidence for the students in the band. It is confidence that they will need as they prepare to represent West Harrison High School and the state of Mississippi in the Rose Parade next year.
“That’s going to be something that those kids will remember for the rest of their lives," Slocum said. "There is thousands of high school bands that have to audition to get into the Rose Bowl Parade. So, it’s a very unique experience.”
And one that will only bring the tight-knit group of students closer together.
“We have a friendship throughout the band and there’s so much teamwork," said Rachel Weaver, a sophomore band member. "It teaches teamwork, and everyone is included in something.”
The West Harrison Hurricane Band is one of 20 marching bands selected to march in the Rose Parade on Jan. 1, 2020. They will march with bands from Mexico, El Salvador, Denmark and many others from across the U.S.