W-F, Manawa students to play in Milwaukee
By Greg Seubert
When it comes to making some noise at a Milwaukee Bucks game, two bands are better than one.
That’s why the Little Wolf and Weyauwega-Fremont high school bands are getting together for an upcoming trip to Milwaukee. The bands, along with W-F and Little Wolf band instructors Andrew Schmidt and Molly Suehs, will perform Friday, Jan. 29, at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee before the Bucks host the Miami Heat at 7 p.m.
Suehs came up with the idea for the bands to perform together, according to Schmidt.
“Last year, we were kind of talking about it at the Horse and Buggy Day parade,” he said. “She said, ‘We should try to get together and play something.’ Then she said, ‘Hey, do you want to go to a Bucks game?’ I said, ‘Yeah, that sounds like a great idea.’”
“We originally had come up with the idea and we needed a certain amount of kids to go,” Suehs said. “I wasn’t certain of the amount of kids to come from our high school and I’m originally from Weyauwega. It was kind of a no-brainer to extend the invitation.”
The bands, which have a combined 85 musicians, tuned up for the performance in December at a basketball game in Weyauwega and again Jan. 19 at a game in Manawa.
“We are so ready to go,” Suehs said. “The first practice was probably the coolest. After our first rehearsal, the kids were so jacked up and so ready to go. They said, ‘We can’t wait to do this again.’ ‘When is the next one?’ ‘Can we do it again?’ Their confidence just went through the roof.”
The W-F band has played at Wisconsin Timber Rattlers games in Grand Chute, but never at an NBA game.
“It’s good to kind of see what else is going on and to appreciate what you have and to know there are other opportunities as you go forward with music,” Schmidt said.
The bands performed a number of songs Jan. 19 before Manawa’s boys’ basketball game with Pacelli, including “Hey, Baby” and “Barbara Ann.”
“We have some songs that we both know,” Schmidt said. “They brought some songs and we brought some songs, so we got to learn some new things. It was a good trade.”
“One of the biggest issues we had is finding music we all knew,” Suehs said. “We went back and forth and picked repertoire that were very strong for both bands.”
The bands will play for about 20 minutes during the Bucks’ pregame warmup before watching the game and returning home that night.
“It’s good, especially with the two groups going together,” Schmidt said. “Maybe our group doesn’t have a whole lot of one instrument, but together, we have a lot.”
“A lot of our weaknesses are their strength,” she said. “It’s really pretty cool.”
Performing with another band has its advantages, Schmidt said.
“The sheer volume can be quite a bit more, but it’s being able to listen to other students play, watching a different director direct,” he said. “There are so many different ways to get to the same point. It’s just nice for them to be able to work together like that.”
“I think it’s the experience of playing with another band that’s really huge,” Suehs said. “When you have small schools and small bands, to get the experience to play with more than your band is huge.
“When you can combine the effort, you start hearing things in the music you normally wouldn’t hear,” she added. “They’re able to engage musically and bond over a common theme. A lot of kids won’t have another opportunity to go and perform like this. It’s really good to get them pumped up and excited about something that’s very positive.”
“It really came out of trying to do things with the kids as a group that’s not a competition,” Schmidt said. “Music, in essence, is supposed to be a collaborative idea.”