GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — A fine arts department of one -- teachers in small schools can carry a heavy load.
Loup City has built a culture that small schools can have big expectations.
“Our band I think it's a good group this year,” said Anthony Braesh, a drummer.
Most small school bands march in parades but wouldn’t dream of putting on a field show. Director Kyle Knaub had that experience, even playing for the Cornhuskers and now gives his kids that same opportunity.
“I'm the band director, choir director, music director, speech director, cross country coach. I think that covers it,” he said of the multiple hats he wears.
It’s a young band – Braesh is the lone junior and there are no seniors.
“A lot of these kids are really dedicated, it's surprising. I didn't realize how much dedication and how big our band would be this year,” Braesh said.
The band includes many younger members like Apollo Morris, who plays the bongos.
“Originally I chose saxophone and I didn't like it because I'm not an octopus,” he said.
The drum major is Nick Jepsen, a sophomore
“We lost some seniors that were a big benefit,” Jepsen said.
“We're kind of in the middle of dealing with the impact COVID had on everything. That disruption is having lingering effects,” Knaub said. “Our junior and senior class got decimated and those were the kids that were 8th grade, 9th grade, that transition didn't transition well.”
Jepsen said they march in parades and also do a field show, something not many class D bands do.
“I think it's kind of crazy. Small school, small band but I think it's beneficial to do a field show. It's a good experience,” said Braesh.
Knaub had that experience in high school and marched at the University of Nebraska and said he wants to prepare kids if they choose to continue their music careers.
“We've had 7 or 8 kids in last 15 years go on and march in college and I don't know they’d be able to do that if they didn't have the experience going in,” he said.
With a young band, Knaub tried to simplify his approach this year. He wrote the music they’re playing and charted the marching routine himself, tailoring it to a young group.
“The trick to it is balancing all the things because we're the pepe band, these 7th and 8th graders have so much music in front of them they're swimming. I threw them in. good luck, let’s go,” he said.
Harvest of Harmony will mark their first performance of the year and for many, it will be the first time they’ve competed and the first time they’ve seen what a field show can look like from other bands but Knaub says it’s about giving his kids opportunities and making the most of it.
The Harvest of Harmony parade is held Saturday, October 1 in downtown Grand Island.