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The County Chronicle

The County Chronicle

The Marching Band Wins National Champions

Imagine having to perform in front of a huge crowd of people, having people watch you from every side of the stadium. On November 4, 2023 vocalist Gracelyn Daniel and the marching band won first place at the USBands National Championships at the Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The marching band is directed by Darron Young and led by two drum majors Miley Strittmatter and Carolina Martinez, the soloists are Lilly Fragie, Nathan Yako, Alan Crouse, and Alison Chow, with the only vocalist being Gracelyn Daniel. Daniel and her band competed against 19 other bands from the East Coast Like Daniel, each one of the students in the marching band made sacrifices to be able to win first place in  the National Championships. 

“I knew this show would be epic the minute I saw the music for it. I loved the incorporation of music from Edward Scissorhands as well as Dvorak’s “Going Home,” I was very surprised when I was given a vocal part in the show,” Daniel said. 

Not only did Daniel have a vocal part during the show, she also played the keyboard, an instrument she has been very passionate about ever since she was a child. 

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“I loved contributing my abilities to the show. I was so excited to sing for the show, and I’m incredibly grateful for people like our pit director, who coached and encouraged me through the whole process,” Daniel said.  

Throughout practice Daniel and the rest of the band group would work for so long that they would eventually become frustrated with themselves. However, many of them had different motivations that helped them to keep going and aim for what they wanted just like Daniel. 

“I think back to the feeling of performing, even more so the feeling of listening to our performance. The magnitude of emotion that we’re able to create through our music is truly incredible, and it motivates me to keep going and keep practicing,” Daniel said. 

Daniel has helped create a pleasing environment within the band group by teaching new and returning members of the pit, but she has felt the responsibility of being a senior this season and misses the band members who have already graduated. 

“We missed those who graduated the season prior, but we welcomed the many freshmen who joined the band, adding their dedication to our discipline and skill,” Daniel said. 

Above all, Daniel enjoys the judges’  comments, especially whenever one of them compliments a section the entire marching band bus bursts into celebration.

“When a judge compliments a band section, the entire bus will burst into celebration, encouraging that section. It’s so cool to see each section encouraging one another, as it really builds a team spirit,” Daniel said. 

Daniel has been inspired by her older brother who also played in the band. 

“My brother had an incredible time and I was blown away by the music they were able to make,” Daniel said. “I would love to pursue music in general after high school because of the incredible experiences I’ve had.” 

The Marching Band gathered up in front of the school, smiling proudly after winning first place at the USBands National Championships at the Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey where they competed against 19 other bands. (Victor O’Neill Studios)

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About the Contributor
Karen Martinez, staff writer
Karen Martinez is a junior at Loudoun County High School. This is her second year in the newspaper staff, she plans to become an investigative journalist in the future.

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