The band program in Jackson County is a wonderful place for students in grades 6-12 to have a consistent and positive interaction with the arts during their most influential years. The directors, staff and student leaders of every group work hard to promote positive student behaviors, teamwork, citizenship and leadership through music. Students can choose to be a part of concert band during the school day or they can branch out and take part in our specialized performance groups after school in our competitive extra-curricular ensembles. Each group has shown growth in numbers and in competitive success since Mr. Umphlett took over the band program in 2005 and now with the addition of Mrs. Saunders leading the middle grade bands to over 150 students we look forward to continued success in the future. Please see below about a brief description of each of our ensembles.
The high school concert band is the only band ensemble that meets during the school day at Smoky Mountain High School. In the fall all 9th graders are put into their own class to learn the advanced skill necessary to perform in high school while the 10-12 graders meet to continue their music education. In the spring the band is split with percussion meeting during their own period since they are responsible for learning multiple techniques and equipment as percussionists. The wind players meet in the other class to focus on topics that are specific to their needs. The two classes always perform together during concerts. This ensemble has traveled multiple times under the direction of Mr. Umphlett and have received excellent and superior ratings in places such as New York City, Atlanta, Orlando and Washington, D.C.
The Marching Mustangs are a competitive marching band that competes in four competitions every fall ranging from local competitions in Enka and Canton to southeast regional competitions located in such places as Raleigh, Charleston (SC), Bassett (VA) and Atlanta (GA). Currently the band consists of 76 members with wind musicians, marching percussion, mallet percussion and a colorguard group that spins flags, rifles and incorporates modern dance techniques to round out our unique performance group. The group rehearses after school three days a week from August 1 to November 1 and perform at all Smoky Mountain Football games. The Marching Mustangs have a show originally composed for them each year by a professional composer. Their show themes in the past have included “Going Home” (a modern E.T. film on the football field) as well as classics such as “Music of the Mountains.” This year the band is performing a show entitled “Surviving Everest” which is a marching band interpretation of the book “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer. The band pride themselves on being original, entertaining audiences across the southeast and in doing it with class, dignity and integrity. The motto the students of the marching band have adopted is as follows: “A group of unique individuals who come together in the pursuit of excellence in performance and as role models that have a positive impact on the world.”
The Winterguard ensemble is comprised of instrumentalists, dancers and anyone who wants to learn more about dance and spinning a flag. These students learn a dance and flag routine to a pre-recorded song. This group also competes in the same circuit as our percussion ensemble and generally travels to the same places to have their competitions. In the past this groups has ranged in size from 8-16 members and has had regional success at the competitions and consistently places well at the championships each year. The Winterguard also practices about twice per week in preparation for their competitions and their season runs from November to the first weekend of April as well.
The Smoky Mountain Jazz Ensemble is an auditioned group consisting of Saxophones, Trombones, Trumpets and a rhythm section (piano, drum set, guitar and bass). The Jazz Ensemble starts in January and continues through the first couple weeks of May, rehearsing two to three days per week after school. This group does not currently compete, but has performed at festivals and received excellent ratings. They also perform at local community events including Relay for Life, Western Carolina University receptions and at the Smoky Mountain Performing Arts concerts. This is a great opportunity for students to gain in depth knowledge of jazz studies in an extra-curricular setting.