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Practice, practice, practice

Luverne High School marching band performs test run at Saturday home football game
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Lori Sorenson

Luverne High School marching band members performed a test run for their 2015 season at Saturday night's home football game.
According to director Richard Owen, the performance was rough around the edges, considering about 20 band members were out with the football team and the group hadn't practiced in a week.
"If people can come and see a competition when we have everyone together, it's a much better show," Owen said.
For Luverne residents, the best opportunity to take in the LHS show will be at Tri-State Band Festival Sept. 26.
Regardless, he said Saturday's half-time performance allowed the group to put the music, choreography and uniforms all together for an audience.
This year's theme is Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean," and it's comprised of four medleys featuring songs from the movie.
The LHS band traveled to Disneyland in California this summer and played "Black Pearl" from the "Pirates" movie in the Disney parade.
Having mastered that song, Owen said it made sense to adopt a "Pirates of the Caribbean" theme for the marching band season.
There are 63 band members and 19 in the color guard (including one alternate color guard member).
Putting together a new routine for every new marching band season requires practice, and band students spent two weeks this summer getting acquainted with their new material.
Percussion students, who spent three weeks in the band room, had the advantage of working with percussion expert Brian Maurer.
Owen knew Maurer from their time spent at Minnesota West Community College in Worthington and the Worthington Area Symphony Orchestra.
Maurer wrote the LHS percussion music for last year's "Braveheart" theme, and Owen said he's grateful the Luverne School Board and Administration approved funding for Maurer's instruction this summer.
He said this extra help goes a long way in fine-tuning a band the size of Luverne’s.
He said dedicated volunteers like Deb Schandelmeier and Jennifer Bakken helped tailor uniforms and put together costumes for color guard members and drum majors.
This year LHS musicians are benefitting from intern Cameron Blackwell, who is studying to be a band teacher but has the fall semester off. "So he's here getting experience," Owen said,
Blackwell, who is pursuing his music teaching degree in Idaho, specializes in low brass and is working primarily with the LHS trombones, baritones and tubas.
“This group has a lot of potential,” Blackwell said. “It’s been amazing to see what can happen when they put their full effort into something.”
Blackwell, Owen and color guard director Gavin Folkestad are all in demand for a group of musicians that is comprised of teenagers still learning to be responsible.
During Tuesday morning’s photo session for the group and for band buttons, the band room was a flurry of uniforms, instruments, costumes and questions.
“Mr. Owen, my sleeves and my pants are too short.”
“Mr. Blackwell, my shoes are size 4 and my feet are size 8 ½.”
“Oh great. I forgot my gloves at home ...”
Miraculously, Owen and the two other adults in the room manage to herd the teenagers into one location for a group photograph.
But then, these teenagers — many of them disciplined students and musicians — are used to working in chorus, as is evidenced on the field during their precision performances.
“I know it is cliché, but it really is a pleasure to work with your students,” Owen wrote in an email to parents at the start of the season. “I am excited about this year and seeing where we go.”
More information about the Luverne High School Band program can be found at

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