Spring Hill band honors former director who died from COVID-19

Band performs special fanfare, percussion feature in honor of former band director
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 6:49 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 13, 2021 at 7:10 PM CDT
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GREGG COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - An East Texas high school band is honoring a band director who passed away from COVID-19.

Ryan Burns, 25, died in August following a battle with COVID-19. This marching season, the Spring Hill ‘Blue Brigade’ has honored their former assistant band director with a special opening fanfare. And on Friday night, the band honored Burns by doing something typically not done by military marching bands.

Ryan Burns, 25, died from COVID-19 in August.
Ryan Burns, 25, died from COVID-19 in August.(Courtesy photo)

“Typically military bands don’t really do a lot of percussion features, but we’re doing that in honor of him,” said Michael Moody, Spring Hill ISD Band Director.

Moody said Burns was the district’s percussion director, giving them reason for dedicating a special mallets feature to him. Burns’ parents were in the audience to see the feature for the first time.

“It takes a lot of planning,” Moody said. “Especially when you’re incorporating percussion into military band, which is not a typical thing. It’s a lot of careful planning. Moving kids in certain spots, counting, and lots of repetition, hard work, and practice.”

The special feature is just one way the band has honored Burns this season. The band has also been performing a special opening fanfare written in his honor.

“When we found out about his passing in August at camp, composer Larry Ward actually wrote this fanfare at the beginning of our show and dedicated it to him,” Moody said. “Nobody is playing this fanfare except Spring Hill.”

When band students learned of Burns’ passing in August, they dedicated the marching season in his honor. Students say his death brought them closer together.

“We all have something to bond over and keep us pushing through the season,” said student Haleigh Yoder.

The ‘Blue Brigade’ is having great success this season, according to Moody. On Saturday, the band advanced to the finals at competition and placed 2nd overall in the military band division. The percussion students took first place in the military division. And the band also made straight ones at UIL this week, and now advance to the area marching contest.

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