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All-State Bands

A perennial parade champion, the Mississippi Lions All-State Band performs at the 2015 international convention in Honolulu, Hawaii.

A perennial parade champion, the Mississippi Lions All-State Band performs at the 2015 international convention in Honolulu, Hawaii.

All-State Bands

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Touchstone Story #97

Some things can’t easily be put into words. But the swelling call of a bugle, the pattering of a snare drum, the trill of a line of marching flute players—music can awaken a feeling of joy and purpose that words cannot match.

Lions Club International founder Melvin Jones, from Fort Thomas, Arizona, wrote in 1927 that “music, both vocal and instrumental, have a wonderful effect for good. In it there is harmony; and whether or not we realize it, harmony winds itself into our very souls; and you cannot have discord in souls filled with harmony.”

The earliest All-State Bands were made up of Lions who were eager to make music together, but today they are made up of the best of the best from local schools’ marching bands. When marching musicians are needed for Lions conventions, local parades and even international events, All-State Bands from around the country rise to the occasion. Local clubs support their bands and fund travel for the musicians to attend competitions and conventions around the world.

Young musicians must prove themselves in auditions every year. Success brings the opportunity to travel and make music with the best of the best and to play alongside young musicians they might not otherwise meet. In 2015, the Mississippi Lions All-State Band attended the International Lions Convention in Honolulu, Hawaii, and won the 31st Annual International Lions Parade Championships. The 145 high school musicians in the band survived a tryout with 852 participants.

“It feels amazing to make the Lions Band,” said trombonist and high school senior Trevor Shoup. “I never thought I would make it this far.” He practiced 15 hours a week in advance of the All-State Band auditions, which included two performances in front of a five-judge panel.

Once a musician is chosen, the real work begins: a full week of band camp, with practices and drills running from dawn till long past dusk.

“The practices were very intense,” said trumpeter Jesse Gibens, also a senior. “We got 30-minute breaks every now and then, but we were constantly playing every minute.”

Three students from Mississippi’s Warren Central High School attended the 2015convention, with financial assistance from the Vicksburg Lions Club of Mississippi. They were given $300 each for travel and food during their weeklong stay in Hawaii.

“Someone has said that music is a means of expressing man’s feeling without words,” said Melvin Jones. “Had there never been human affection, there never would have been uttered a strain of music. Language is not subtle enough, tender enough, to express all that we feel, and when language fails, our highest and noblest longings are translated into music—the sunshine and climate of the soul.”

The Indiana All-State Lions band played at the 1934 convention. Each member was a Lion.

The Indiana All-State Lions band played at the 1934 convention. Each member was a Lion.

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