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Midwest City High School Music Program Plays Graceland

By Tonya Little
Midwest City Beacon 

The Midwest City High School band, jazz band and orchestra students traveled to Memphis, Tennessee March 10-12 to play at Graceland, among other activities.

While the day of the performance proved to be a bit cold and rainy, the students still got to tour the former home of Elvis Presley and then play for visitors.

“Unfortunately, the rain hampered our crowd a little bit, but the students got to perform for people that were there from around the world. There were visitors from Texas to Germany at Graceland that day. I think playing there also showed them about the non-competitive side of music and that’s playing music to entertain an audience and make them happy. No better place to do that then at the home of one of the most famous entertainers in the world,” said Mark Hensley, MCHS jazz band director.

In fact, the staff at Graceland was so impressed with the jazz band, they presented the band with a special award of recognition and made the comment, “We wish you all lived closer. We’d like to hire you all to play at some of our corporate events.”

While getting the opportunity to play one of the most famous music sites was exciting, the trip also consisted of a riverboat dinner cruise where the band playing that night invited students to join them on stage for various songs. There was also a trip to the Bass Pro Pyramid, a tour of the legendary Sun Studios, dinner at the Hard Rock Café, a visit to Beale Street, seeing the famous Peabody ducks make their march at the Peabody Hotel, and touring the Civil Rights Museum.

“My favorite parts of the trip were playing at Graceland and the riverboat cruise. I liked how the band on the cruise let us come up and sing with them and let Jordyn play drums with them. That was a great start to the trip,” said student Bliss Norbury.

While Hensley said as a director it’s always a bit on the stressful side getting everything coordinated, he enjoyed the trip and had some very memorable moments.

“First would be, seeing the student’s excitement and interaction while listening to live musicians perform. Part of our job as directors is to make music exciting for our students. I think they found excitement interacting with the local Memphis musicians. Second would be watching them get excited and interacting with each other while learning history. Not only learning the history of all the Blues and Rock-N-Roll legends from Memphis but also about the Civil Rights movement that played a big part in the history of Memphis. As we walked through the Civil Rights Museum, I thought it was cool hearing students say, ‘we talked about this in my history class,’” said Hensley.


“I really enjoyed our band trip because it was my first time going out of state without relatives. We got to explore and go to places that I’ve never been to before. The best part of the trip was that I got closer to my band mates,” said student Scythe Cardenas.

The spring break trip had originally been planned for April 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic.

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