JFHS student marches with All-American band

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By John Barnhart

    Amanda Arnold, a Jefferson Forest High School (JFHS) senior, was selected for a special honor for high school band students.  She was one of 125 high school band students from all over the United States chosen for the US Army All-American High School Marching Band.

    This band performed at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, a football game, played on Jan. 4, featuring the top high school senior football players from across the country. The band performed at the game’s halftime.
    The application process was long and complex. Arnold had to send three videos of herself. In one, she plays a piece that was sent to her. In the second, she plays a piece of her choice. All of the performances are done marching. In the third video, she tells about herself.
    The notice that she was one of the students chosen was a long time coming and, at first, she thought she hadn’t been accepted. Then, the notice of her selection arrived at the beginning of August.
    “I like screamed and cried,” Arnold said, describing her reaction to the news.
    She took a plane to San Antonio, Texas, at the end of December. It was the first time she had ever flown.
    “I thought it was fun,” she commented, adding that she had a window seat on that flight, as well as the return flight.
    Copies of the music the band would play were sent to Arnold well in advance, giving her time to practice. However, this would be a marching band and none of the 125 teens had ever seen each other, let alone played together.
    “We had the show on the field in four days,” she said.
    Each of those days consisted of two rehearsal blocks, each three to four hours long.
    The band’s performance impressed people.
    “How many months has this band been together?” people would ask.
    “There were a lot of really good people there,” Arnold commented.
    She said being with such a talented group was a humbling experience.
    “There were times when I thought, ‘I don’t belong here, these people are so good,’” she said.
    But she obviously did belong there.
    “It was the best week of my life,” she said.
    Arnold plays the baritone in the JFHS marching band. This is a brass instrument that was developed in the 19th century. The marching band version looks like a really big trumpet.    
    Arnold plans to go to college and is working out whether she wants to major in music or English. She plans to go to a community college, first, then transfer to a four-year school.