On Jan. 1, 2020, Tribal member and baritone player Kayden Harrell stood on the corner of Piccadilly Street and St. James’s Street with more than 100 Southmoore High School marching band members from Moore, Oklahoma. They anxiously awaited the chance to perform as part of London’s New Year’s Day Parade, instruments in hand.
“Once we got started, it passed by quite quickly, but it was still a lot of fun,” Harrell said.
More than 10,000 people from around the world put their talents on display in some of London’s most historic neighborhoods that afternoon. Harrell and the band blasted out marching favorites such as Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond and Hey! Baby by Bruce Channel. They finished the 2 and 1/2 mile route with a performance of the 2014 hit Shut up and Dance by Walk the Moon, which was her favorite.
“It just sounds really nice whenever you’re actually playing it with everyone,” Harrell said. “It just sounds different to me now than it did listening to the song beforehand.”
They took to the streets as the only marching band from Oklahoma. The school participated in 2016, and the parade invited them back. They marched for approximately three hours, entertaining a street crowd of nearly a half-million people and a television audience of more than 300 million. Harrell had never played for that many people before.
“It definitely made me nervous, especially during the big performance because there was a camera going in front of us, and my group, we were in the very front,” Harrell said. “It stopped like right in front of me, and that freaked me out a bit.”
Her mother, Leeann, took the New Year’s trip with Kayden and watched the band perform its final number from the grandstands. Although they traveled to Westminster Abbey, Hampton Court, St. Paul’s Cathedral and much more during their eight days in England, the parade remained Harrell’s favorite.
“I think it was the highlight of my trip because I just got to do kind of whatever,” she said.
“We kept it casual because (the organizers) told us to act like it was relaxed and not be so tense like a normal marching thing would be. Just because they wanted us to have fun and look relaxed and carefree.”
Music helped Harrell overcome some of her bashfulness since she began playing the trombone in the seventh grade concert band. Although Harrell picked music as an alternative to other unappealing classes, it quickly turned into a highlight of high school.
“It definitely made me a lot more confident in giving me a purpose,” she said. “Before, I was kind of really shy. I didn’t really know what to do with my time. Once marching band started, I had tons of stuff that I got to go and do. It just helped me come out a lot.”
Most of her friends also participate in marching band, and Harrell enjoys spending time with them before school at practice. Several of them went on the trip to London together as well. The sense of community makes marching band unique.
“All of the grades of band are together, where in concert band, we’re all kind of different classes. So you just feel really connected with everyone else. You’re just together all the time, and you get to make good friends,” Harrell said.
Her appreciation for all kinds of music has grown as well. However, Harrell had little interest in the art form before she learned to play.
“I didn’t really pay attention much to music until I got into band. I just didn’t really understand it, but now I kind of have a different look on it,” she said.
She listens to jazz and pop as well as different kinds of instrumental music, and she enjoys breaking it down into parts. One of her favorite pieces from the most recent marching season was Toxic by Britney Spears, and she looks forward to learning more.
“I love marching band,” she said. “I actually miss it, and I’m really excited for it to start up again.”