A fall chill hung in the morning air, but the routine continued to heat up for the marching band in America's Hometown.

A fall chill hung in the morning air, but the routine continued to heat up for the marching band in America’s Hometown.

Each section of the band and the color guard continued to polish their routine as they practiced their field show in Porter Stadium, making steady progress with a cleaner show, better marching, improved color guard moves and sweeter music, Director of Bands Debbie Higbee-Roberts said. The Hannibal Pirate Pride Marching Band and color guard reviewed video footage from a past competition, practiced their songs and moves from “Wicked,” preparing for their final competition of the season on Saturday, Oct. 17, in Imperial Mo. The musicians and color guard members prepared to follow up on their strong performances during the Mark Twain Marching Band Festival Tuesday, Oct. 13.

“They just ramped it up,” Higbee-Roberts said.

The students reviewed judges’ comments and video footage from a competition held Saturday, Oct. 10. Resulting improvements included adding some body movements in spots where band members were standing still and instilling new color guard general effects to enhance the show. After 25 years of teaching band, Higbee-Roberts said she still felt amazed by the group’s ability to adapt and learn. Camaraderie is key, and the upperclassmen make newcomers feel more comfortable about the new experience of marching band, she said.

Freshman Nicholas Tompkins, who played xylophone in the pit, described performing on the field as “eye-opening.” He said upperclassmen alleviated some early jitters and guided him throughout the season. For his musical performance, Tompkins practiced. And practiced.

“I’ve definitely had to practice a lot more,” he said. “The part is really in my head now.”

Tompkins said he felt prepared for the season’s final competition.

“I’m just really excited,” Tompkins said. “I’m ready for it.”

Senior trumpet player Thomas Riggs said he had fond memories from jazz district band competitions and marching band competitions and “playing all day.”

Since the Oct. 17 competition would be the last such event for Riggs, he said he felt a mix of excitement, hope and some sadness. For newcomers to the band, Riggs had some words of wisdom.

“Play your heart out and have fun,” he said.

Band and color guard members came in a half-hour early for several weeks before their first field show in September. Throughout the lengthened practices, they pulled “their own weight and got the job done,” Higbee-Roberts said.

On Band Day, that dedication shone again.

“Everybody was here, in place and on time,” Higbee-Roberts said. “It went off without a hitch.”

Color guard member Leah Rawlings said this was her first year in the squad. Rawlings performed in vocal music programs for years, but wanted to join the instrumental music program as a senior to bolster her dream job of teaching music. The color guard routine closely paralleled the show choir experience, she said.

Members of the color guard learned their routine through video via YouTube, because their instructor couldn’t be there in person. With diligent practice, the squad members’ efforts paid off.

“It was a really great experience,” Rawlings said. “I feel like everything kind of comes together in the end.”

Higbee-Roberts said the season’s trips, competitions and field shows would produce lifelong memories for the students. And they earned every one of them.

“This is a lot of work,” Higbee-Roberts said. “But it’s fun work.”

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com .