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Parade band to perform at Hillcrest High football games

Aug 17, 2018 02:14PM ● Published by Julie Slama

Hillcrest High drumline, under the direction of Austin Hilla (left), played in the Harvest Days Parade in Midvale. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | julie@mycityjournals.com

Hillcrest High band president Kosha Hansen was learning how to march with her fellow band members in mid-August as the pep band transitions to a parade band this fall. 

“We’ll be marching to the stadium, which will be more fun than just walking in to play,” she said. “It will connect the kids in the band and help to unify us.” 

The parade band is expected to play at region home games this fall, marching in step from the music department in front of the school to the cadence of the drumline. The musicians will stop to perform several times, including at the stadium gate and by the student section. 

“Mr. (Austin) Hilla loves marching band and comes from Texas where it’s big there,” said the senior. “It will give students more to cheer for as we develop a marching band that can perform at halftimes.” 

Hilla, who was new teaching in the music department last year, said he did have lots of experience marching in Texas bands. 

“It was part of the culture and social groups formed from marching bands,” he said. “I loved the experience. However, we’ll take it a step at a time, beginning with a uniform style and posture, marching in front of our school and home field.” 

The drumline performed at the Aug. 11 Harvest Days parade, demonstrating its ability to play cadences while marching. 

“I know where I came from, the community supported marching bands. It would bring together students at Hillcrest and bring that spirit to the Midvale community,” he said. 

Hilla said that after a few short years, Alta High School’s marching band in nearby Sandy has done a “great job.” 

In five years, Alta’s marching band has performed not only in local parades, but also marched in Washington, D.C.’s Memorial Day parade and won the 2A division at the Utah Music Education Association marching band championship. 

Hilla also has a five-year plan. 

“I’d like us to be ready when the new school opens to provide halftime entertainment for the community with a corps style performance that would be competitive,” he said. 

Currently, the school is being rebuilt on the same campus and will be constructed over the next three years. 

“However, the plan is based on the support and buy-in of the school community. Creating an infrastructure for the marching band is a big investment so I would need the community support,” he said. 

Already, Hilla has been exploring the option, talking locally as well as with marching bands in Texas and Tennessee about the process, including uniforms and other contingents “that can help us do it correctly and be successful.”

Success, he said, is based upon the band “looking good, sounding good and liking it. If the kids have fun and the community supports it, we can build upon it and become bigger and better.” 

Hilla moved to Utah after teaching in Texas. He earned his master’s in secondary education and bachelor’s in music from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University. 

However, music wasn’t always his thing. 

“When I was 14, I didn’t want to do band, but my mom made me commit to playing one year,” Hilla said. “At freshman band camp, I connected with others. I personally met my role models as a freshman down in Houston at band camp. They were people who would become professional musicians, engineers, lawyers and doctors, but they were invested in making music the best they could be on the field and off as students and people. We bonded through music and marching eight hours per day when it was 115 degrees on the hot asphalt.

“If I didn’t have band, I’m not sure I would devote that much time or work that hard. I was inspired to do more and want to do more.” 

That made a difference in his life and motivated him to teach — and introduce band camp to Hillcrest in August. 

Last fall, Hilla made another change to the instrumental department, by changing the school’s jazz band to Hillcrest High Big Band. 

“The name ‘Big Band’ captures the energy and sound we’re doing at Hillcrest,” he said. “(This) year, we’ll have a full big band sound with four trombones, four trumpets, five saxophones and four rhythm players. We’ll be playing some exciting pieces and will be going full stream ahead.”

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