, Muskogee, OK

April 28, 2014

Winning band: High school band nabs Sweepstakes Award

By Cathy Spaulding
Times Staff Writer

— Fort Gibson High School band members could have played easy and fun music over the past six weeks, said Director LaNell Spyres.

But they had a State Sweepstakes award to win instead.

The band reached that goal at the State Band Contest, held Wednesday at East Central University.

Spyres said the band earned Sweepstakes by making “1” or Superior ratings in the state concert performance, sight-reading and marching contests as well as the district concert band contest.

She said bands do not have to beat other bands to earn Superior ratings or win Sweepstakes.

The 88-member Royal Regiment Band earned the Superior marching rating at the state marching contest last fall.

The band earned a Superior rating at the district concert band competition earlier this year.

Spyres said the band could have stopped there and chosen not to go to the state contest.

“It meant six more weeks of hard work,” she said. “They could have done more popular and fun music.”

Band members not only chose to go on to state, they chose a more challenging selection of music, she said.

“It was a level harder than they have to play in 4A. It was on the level of 5A bands” she said. “I think they just wanted to prove to me they could do it.”

In sight-reading, the band was given eight minutes to study, then play a piece of music members had never seen before, Spyres said.

Band members spent Friday morning’s practice time putting away their contest music.

However, one more band must prove itself at state competition.

The Fort Gibson jazz band will compete next at the state jazz band contest at the University of Central Oklahoma.

Jazz band members have practiced from 7 to 7:45 most mornings, Spyres said.

“That was their own decision,” she said.

“It was hard to get up that early, but it was worth it,” said sophomore Lauren Martin, who plays saxophone.

“We haven’t gotten to play at state in a long time.”

All Fort Gibson bands will perform at an ice cream social 6 p.m. May 15 at the Fort Gibson Field House.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or

If you go

WHAT: Ice Cream Social fundraiser.

WHEN: 6 p.m. May 15.

WHERE: Fort Gibson Field House.

WHO: All Fort Gibson school bands, from sixth grade and up.