by Jill Byars The Prowl News
Typically, a marching show at Amory High School showcases one or more soloists. A soloist position is most often given to the first chair player of the solo’s respected instrument unless the first chair member is a freshman, then the next upperclassman in line is selected. For the Amory Panther Marching Band’s 2020 show, entitled Piano Man: The Music of Billy Joel, there are two trumpet soloist features.
Instead of the typical audition and selection process of chair order that usually takes place before the season, students were placed in order by the band directors, considering each member’s past performance and abilities. Since the first chair position was not necessarily judged the same, the band directors were hesitant about assigning the trumpet features to the first chair player. Their solution was to hold auditions for the part in order to award the solo fairly.
Three trumpets auditioned for a chance for this feature: first trumpet senior Jill Byars, second trumpet junior Zach Scaggs, and fourth trumpet sophomore Gabriel Navarro. The three players practiced hard, both in the band hall and at home, and remained with good sportsmanship towards each other regardless of the competition.
When the audition date arrived, the three members played the first solo feature separately in front of their three band directors: Jeff Colburn, David Cuevas, and Will Pate. After several anxious minutes outside, the three were called into the band hall. Expecting to hear a single recipient, they wished one another luck. To their surprise, the directors couldn’t choose a single player and the solo was awarded to all three trumpets.
Jill Byars was showcased in the first performance during halftime at the Caledonia game as well as the Nettleton game. Zach Scaggs was featured during the New Albany game and Gabriel Navarro during the Alcorn Central game.
Though the marching season was not ideal, regarding the lack of away game attendance and competitions, however, these three players still gave the solo their all.