Ames high band: a love story

An Ames High School without extracurricular activities is impossible to imagine. Imagining an Ames High without a band is nearly as hard. Where would we be without the band? Surely, the number of people who go to football games would go down (especially in below-freezing weather). The enthusiasm of basketball games, “excitement” of pep assemblies, and general morale of the student population would likely decrease as well. With the clear importance that the band has today, most students may assume that the band has been around forever, or, at least for as long as our school has. “I think that there’s probably been a band since Ames High was built,” sophomore and band member Ann Ku says. Bojun Song, another sophomore band member, agrees. “I really don’t know what our school would be like without a band,” he said. Despite common assumptions, the band was not actually formed until 1920, several decades after Ames High School was first built. Before the band was initiated, there was a full orchestra, formed in 1908. This orchestra, however, was not complete, at least by today’s standards. The instrumentation varied from year to year, consisting of a mishmash of wind and string instruments. Early on, the numbers of the combined orchestra were much smaller than they are today, with about twenty to thirty people each year, a strong contrast to the hundreds of students participating in band and orchestra today. After the band was formed, and as the population of Ames started to expand, the number of students involved began to grow. With the growth of the band, the number of opportunities available for band students began to grow as well. Eventually, the pep and jazz bands that we currently have in our school today were formed. After some time, the band also opened up opportunities for musical competition, such as the all-state festival and solo and ensemble competition. In our school today, and throughout our school’s history, band has certainly been an important aspect of Ames High School, for both band students and non-band students alike. “As a member of the band,” Song says, “ my appreciation for different kinds of music has increased, and the door to playing musical instruments has been opened.” Ku’s feelings for the importance of band are even stronger. “Without band, my life would be horrible,” she says. “It would be unfulfilled.”