Being a part of a high school band is more than just marching to the beat of the music while playing an instrument, it takes a lot of dedication and hard work to make things work.

This week, Little Cypress-Mauriceville and Bridge City High School bands will be performing during half time as part of the homecoming celebration. Recently both school bands fared exceptionally well when they competed in the UIL marching contest. They each scored an exceptional rating of a 1.  Bridge City, which is a 3A school, will advance to the area competition. LC-M, which is a 4A school, will be eligible to compete like other 1A, 2A and 4A schools during alternate years in order to advance. However, the LC-M band members are gearing up for an upcoming honor band competition.

The last time LC-M won the honor band competition was in 1990. Schoppert feels this is “our year to try again.”

Schoppert and the band members began months ago in order to prepare for the upcoming season and the competitions. The color guard and percussion section of the LC-M band began practicing in mid-July. The remainder of the 135 participants began on August 1. In the sweltering Southeast Texas heat, they practiced twice daily. During the morning hours they worked outside while in the afternoons, practice continued indoors.

Steve Schoppert has been the LC-M head band director for three years. Before the band can begin getting ready to learn the various marching patterns, Schoppert does the drill writing. To make things easier, he has a computer program to help determine if what he has in mind will work once it is synced with the music.

According to Schoppert, there are different types of bands. There are the “showy” type high school bands which are considered more dramatic and sometimes move as if they are dancing to the music while they play such as the West Orange-Stark High School band. There are also the military style bands which march in precise, straight, angular lines. In this area,  LC-M and Bridge City are corp style bands. While on the field they face the sidelines while marching in geometrical forms. The steps can be large or small.

“Each band has its’ own identity,” Schoppert said.

Schoppert looks for difficult music to give LC-M the competitive edge if they want to advance to the state level.

“Our legacy here is to advance in the area and state competitions,” he said.

The band plays the “jukebox” sounds fans love at games, but the harder songs are the band’s “bread and butter.”

Schoppert admits the pressure to win at competitions, is “self-imposed” but with all the trophies from past wins as a constant reminder, he wants to continue the tradition.

“When you do win, it’s the icing on the cake,” he said.

According to UIL rules, the band can practice up to eight hours per week on top of the class time.

The uniforms have been modernized and are not the same as in years past. The latest uniforms are made of lightweight material and are machine washable. With the extreme Southeast Texas heat, the new uniforms are a must have for the students.

Each year as students graduate, the structure of the band changes.

“Every year the band takes on a different personality,” Schoppert said. “We always hope to have a good balance of instruments.”

However, no matter what, they are always conscious on where they set the bar which will lead to a success at area competitions.

“There is so much history here,” Schoppert said. “The LC-M band is like an ambassador program. We always want to put on a good face to make the school look better.”

But, being in the high school band is not only about performing. Schoppert knows it is much more.

“I love to help these kids learn life skills such as accountability, pressure and the importance of family,” he said.

He also hopes his students will be able to further their education in college by obtaining a scholarship.

“In my opinion, band scholarships are more easily obtainable than athletic scholarships,” Schoppert said.

Schoppert attributes the band’s success to not only the hard work of the students, but also his staff and the very supportive administrators.

“It’s a huge mountain of responsibility, but I have a great staff,” he said.

At the end of the game, as everyone leaves the stadium, win or lose they can all leave with a smile and the tune that keeps playing inside their head which was happily provided by the band.