The 5 Q's: Joplin High School band prepares for annual Christmas parade

Abbi Surbrugg (left), junior drum major, and Brian Kelley, Joplin High School band director, are putting the finishing touches this week on the band’s plans for its performance Tuesday during the Joplin Christmas parade.Globe | Emily Younker

Q: What is your involvement in the Joplin High School band?

A: Abbi Surbrugg: I was a clarinet player. I marched clarinet, and then I did clarinet in concert band freshman year. Sophomore year, I wanted to be a drum major. At the end of freshman year, I tried out to be a drum major and I got it, so sophomore year during marching season, I was the drum major on the left, facing the band. Then I rejoined the clarinet section and doubled as their section leader during concert season.

Then this year I re-tried out for drum major and got it; I was the only one this year. I will rejoin as a clarinet player for concert band.

Q: How does the band prepare for the Christmas parade, which will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday?

A: Brian Kelley: We rehearse the music, and we identify what makes this parade song significant for the kids. It’s a long-standing tradition for our program and our town. We have a very unique piece of music that was arranged just for our band program.

It’s been over 20 years — 25 years, I think — that they’ve been doing this traditional piece of music for the Christmas parade, and many people in the community know it, and the band students have a history of playing it as well. It’s kind of a staple in our community.

As well as the music that we learn, there’s also choreography to it, with different horn pops and different dance moves that happen during the parade. It’s a very exciting production for the Joplin Christmas parade.

Q: What do you like best about the Christmas parade?

A: Surbrugg: I like decorating the instruments and putting lights in my hat. And I like the dance moves in the song.

Q: What’s your secret for staying warm and keeping your instrument warm?

A: Surbrugg: For clarinet, you have to cover the mouthpiece, so you have to figure out how to adapt to the instrument and the weather. We wear coats to keep us warm, and you have to layer up under the uniform.

Kelley: We have our Eagle Pride band-issued uniform jackets. They’re waterproof, and they’re also pretty insulating to keep us warm. We have an arsenal of Plan B’s, C’s and D’s.

Q: What can the community expect from the band on the night of the parade?

A: Kelley: I would say that people come to the parade to see the band perform. They know it’s a tradition in our town.

They know that our performance is among all the other live performances in the parade. We’re probably one of the most unique ones people can look forward to mainly because the music is exciting, it’s upbeat (and) there are tunes that the audience will recognize. And it’s kind of a mashup of a lot of different tunes, so if a spectator has a favorite Christmas song they want to hear, chances are they’re going to hear it at some point.

Like I said, with it being a tradition for so many years, people can expect to see it every year, and I’m really happy the community supports us and gets excited to see the Joplin Eagle Pride marching band during the Joplin Christmas parade.

Brian Kelley is the Joplin High School band director. Abbi Surbrugg is a junior and drum major.

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