Baur said despite standing alongside teams like Broken Arrow, Okla., who won Grand Nationals two years ago, his 190 students weren't intimidated and fed off the high-stakes competitive atmosphere.
A total of 14 high school marching bands made the finals of the Bands of America St. Super Regional last weekend, but after the first 13 teams were announced, the Pride of the Lake Marching Band wasn’t one of them.
“We knew we had a chance, but they don’t call any scores until the very end,” Director Paul Baur said.
And then the last team was announced, one of the 26 bands representing Class 2A, and who had placed third overall in that division with a visually-stunning show entitled “Tickled Pink.”
“They called us out number 14, the last band in the finals. We just exploded,” Baur said. “We exploded with tears, we held each other and jumped up and down.”
Unable to get reception in the Edwards Jones Dome, Baur said when he exited onto the streets of St. Louis he was bombarded with 124 text messages and 280 Facebook notifications from supporters within the band community and not just from the Lake of the Ozarks area.
“The highest we’ve ever been was 15, we’re normally in the 20s. You’re facing off against some of the best bands in the country and it’s always been a dream to make Super Regionals,” the 25-year educator said. “This year we did. It just finished a magical season. Our kids made it to where we’ve never been before, and the highest score we had gotten all year.”
Baur said despite standing alongside teams like Broken Arrow, Okla., who won Grand Nationals two years ago, his 190 students weren’t intimidated and fed off the high-stakes competitive atmosphere.
“It was thrilling. One of the top highlights of my 25 years of teaching, if not the very top,” he said. “This year — it sounds crazy — it was a magical year for our band here in Camdenton. Just the countless hours that the kids put in paid off this weekend and really throughout the year.”
The marching band got off to a hot start this season when it traveled to Powder Springs, Ga. and won the Class 2A Regional Championship. They followed up with two solid performances in festivals in Kansas City and Springfield. The BOA Super Regionals is the second largest high school band competition in the nation just below Grand Nationals which are held in November in Indianapolis.
“Maybe someday,” Baur said about reaching the pinnacle of the high school marching band world.
The long-time director credits the dedication of his students as well as a group of 60 to 100 parents who help feed the kids, run concession stands to raise money, chaperone trips and transport equipment, among other forms of support. He said one parent had estimated this group of kids had put in 250 hours of rehearsal for the 9-minute show. For a solid three months of the year, Baur said, the band practices every day except Sunday.
“We have a parent group that is spectacular, they help all the time,” he said. “The kids put everything into it, their whole heart and mind, a commitment like you can’t even imagine. Our kids worked so hard, we normally have perfect attendance, the kids don’t miss. There’s a level of commitment that you really can’t thank the kids enough for.”