Marching to the Beat of a Different Drummer

Know Your Town
Bunnell-Stratford High School Marching Band

by G. James Miller
Director of Bands at Frank Scott Bunnell HS

The Bunnell-Stratford High School Marching Band presently has a membership of over 110 members, incorporating students from Bunnell High School and Stratford High School.

A look back:
Originally, the “Highlanders” Marching Band were organized to perform at the Halftimes of the Bunnell High School football games, along with the cheerleaders and the dance squad. There was no “Color Guard” (Flags or Rifles) and the Drumline consisted of snare drummers and a bass drummer and the Band included a Bagpipe section. Membership ranged from 50 members to over 100. Their high standards of excellence earned them praise from the school and community.

In the late 1960’s, early 1970’s the School adopted a more contemporary (for the time) approach towards Marching Band, using the latest “Squad” drills and utilizing flags for the first time. The quality of the “Bulldog” Marching Band remained high. The Late 1970’s brought the band into a new generation of Competitive Marching Band. Drumline consisted of Multi Tenors, Multi Bass Drums and all types of Color Guard implements. The band began to travel and compete outside Connecticut, achieving success that no other CT band had at this point. The band bought its second set of uniforms with funds raised by the parents.

In the early 1990’s the indoor Drumline and Color guard were formed and students were now offered a year round option. The Band was introduced to technology. Electronics, wireless Instruments, drum trigger pads & digital samplers were used over the next 25 years. Our technological approach to the activity has been pioneering and unparalleled, including the design of a wireless percussion pad set up for a student in a wheelchair. The most contemporary marching and musical styles were incorporated and the Marching Band started to become a “household” word in the Marching Band Community. In 1988 the Band Parents purchased the current uniforms we have now.

The late 1990’s the Band expanded its membership eligibility to begin including students from Stratford High School, as well as 8th grade students from both of the town’s Middle Schools. The band also began traveling far and wide across the Nation, performing at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Shea Stadium in NY, the Reflecting pool at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, and the Hollywood Christmas Parade and the Tournament of Roses Parade in California. The group has performed at Disney World in Orlando & Disneyland in California combined over 15 times. The Band has appeared on National Television 9 times since 1998, and has garnered many awards, including several National Championships for the Indoor Drumline, several top 3 finishes for the Indoor Color Guard and over 20 State Championships for the Marching Band, including 5 consecutive State & New England titles, starting with 2016.

Our greatest pride comes not only from the awards we have won, the students that have developed a lifelong love of music, or a work ethic and commitment towards excellence that they have transferred into their other activities, but from the extraordinary amount of students who have entered into careers in Music Performance, Music Business and Music Education. From recording artists with Capitol Records and professional touring musicians to high school band directors and professors at major universities. Bunnell has had a rich tradition of students pursuing music as their life commitment.

We have always been an inclusive activity, allowing everyone who wishes to participate membership. Students with disabilities and beginning musicians have been welcomed. The Band Program offers students who may not wish to participate in competitive sports an opportunity to participate in a co-educational program that is competitive.

Any student who is interested in a membership with the Bunnell-Stratford Bulldog Marching Band and Color guard should visit www.bunnellband.org – navigate to the “Students” section in the menu at the top. Students are encourage to watch the recruitment video (“Watch the Video”) first with their Parents and then click “Register Fall 2021” and submit the form. You may always reach out to the Director at Bunnell, James Miller, by email – jamesmiller@bunnellband.org or phone – 203-385-4261 – for more information.

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