Three Falcons named to All-American Band

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comDecember 3, 2012 

— At this rate, Nation Ford may soon be able to field an All-American band all by itself.

For the fifth straight year, a Falcon musician was named to the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band. This year there were three. Maj. Patrick Walker, at the school Friday to recognize seniors Jake Mann, John Richardson and Ian Pilley, also announced that band Director Martin Dickey was selected to represent the group.

“It’s impressive having one student selected from a school,” Walker said. “It’s truly extraordinary that three students would be recognized from the same school in the same year.”

The All-American Band includes 125 musicians and color guard members from across the country, who’ll perform at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. This coming year’s game will be Jan. 5 in San Antonio, Texas.

All three musicians credited their instructors, school administration and, most of all, their families. Mann, a clarinet player, thanked his parents for “putting up with the early squeaks and squawks” of learning the instrument while Richardson thanked his for dealing with his constant practicing as he learned the tuba.

“I definitely could not have done it without a lot of help through the years,” Pilley said.

Nation Ford’s history of band competition success, musicianship and even All-American honors made Friday special for Mann. Especially since he shared the stage.

“We’ve always had kind of a reputation of excellence,” he said. “To have three in one year, it’s phenomenal.”

The most recent tuba player to win All-American honors at Nation Ford graduated just this spring. Richardson was proud to continue the trend with his honor, but said it’s long been a personal goal.

“I’ve always wanted to audition and make it,” he said.

Auditions involved playing and marching on video. Pilley, player of the tenor saxophone, said he’s excited to meet and perform alongside the most talented high school musicians in the country with the All-American Band. Something he’s used to, he said, playing at Nation Ford.

“You’re going to have the best,” he said. “You know it’ll be a very high talent level.”

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