The Blue Root Jazz Combo kicked off the 51st Troy University Southeastern United States High School Honor Band and Clinic (SEUS) with a performance on Thursday morning. Nearly 600 high school students showed up for the event launched by Dr. John M. Long in 1973.
“[SEUS] has allowed me to meet new people, play new music and work in a different system,” said Eli Logue, a junior at Bainbridge High School in Georgia. “I’ve learned a whole lot more than I knew before.”
SEUS includes performances from both local and guest bands, plus honor band rehearsals for visiting high schoolers and clinics for their band directors. The guest bands for 2024 were from Muscle Shoals High School and Bucholz High School in Gainesville, Florida.
“We want everybody involved to have a good time and leave here on Saturday feeling accomplished with what they did and who they met,” said Dr. Mark Walker, Director of Bands. “We want students to have skills to take back to their home bands.”
In addition to honor band rehearsals and the Saturday afternoon concert, students also attended a masterclass on Thursday afternoon. It allowed them to learn a wider variety of music and get outside of their comfort zones.
“I like getting out of the band room and putting what I know to good use somewhere,” said Emily Espinoza, a senior at Wicksburg High School in Alabama. “This is a really open learning environment where you can see the differences between bands.”
This year, SEUS drew clinicians from all over the United States, plus Dr. Pete Meechan, who currently lives in Canada. Other clinicians traveled from places like the University of Illinois, the University of Mississippi, West Salem High School in Oregon and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Although band directors and students came from all over the map, many have connections with Troy University’s music program. Both Logue and Espinoza said that attending SEUS was a tradition at their schools.
“The longevity of SEUS is important, and it speaks to the quality of the event and the excitement that exists around it,” Walker said. “I like having all the students and band directors here, and since I’ve been here so long a lot of the band directors are former students of mine.”