livonia band

Former band members reunite to bring music back to Livonia HighBy

A live band will perform for the first time this season when the Livonia football team faces Breaux Bridge on Senior Night, but the ensemble will not feature current students.

High school alumni will bring the fight song and other music back to The Jungle. Band performances had been absent from Wildcat games after the music director accepted a job in another school system.

A post on social media hinted how much the fans missed it.

It started with a Facebook post former bandmember Andrew Jarreau received about the fight song the band used to play when the Wildcats scored a touchdown.

“It was “Go Mighty Wildcats” and I played it a thousand times in the band,” he said. “Next thing you know, I was receiving texts asking if I could get them a recording of it so we can play it and get some guys together.

“The whole thing snowballed and here we are,” Jarreau said.

On a Sunday afternoon, Jarreau gathered with some 30 other band alumni – some from 10 years ago, others from the early 1990s – who sharpened their skills in preparation for Friday night.

He never imagined so many former members would come forward for the event.

For most of the members, it didn’t take long to brush up years after their last performance.

“It all came together like it was only yesterday,” Ashley “Peanut” David said. “It’s like riding a bike.”

The practice session seemed more like a class reunion for most of the band members.

It’s hard to find a greater sense of camaraderie, Jarreau said.

“It was an elective we took in school, but it has meant so much more,” he said. “You have all walks of life here, and this brings people together.

“There is no separation here … all of it goes away when everyone is playing.”

Chelsea Meche said the experience in the band shaped her future in many ways – including her acquaintance with Jonathan Meche, a fellow band member, whom she married in January.

“It taught me I didn’t have to be so shy, that I could have fun and walk nine miles and still play my heart out,” she said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve played, but it all flows when you return.”

The band members want to see the program return so they watch the up-and-coming students grasp the same lessons about music and life.

“Band members generally perform better academically, it teaches discipline and devotion to a task to see it through,” Jarreau said.  “It’s about self-attention, ambition, giving your total focus to a goal and seeing it through and perfecting your craft – and that pays dividends in all walks of life.”

The performers are not alone in the desire to see the program return. Pointe Coupee Parish School Superintendent Kim Canezaro considers music programs a vital component of a quality school system.

“Cleotha Jonigan (Livonia principal) and I talked about it, and I’m going to give him permission to find a new director,” she said. “When we started the school year, we had 60 percent of the children at home and we were under a pandemic, and he was a new principal trying to get things going, but we both recognize that we need to build up a music program for children in this parish who are musically inclined.”

The stadium seems much quieter without a band during the game, she said.

“It’s absolutely one of the missing pieces in this school system, and we definitely want to bring it back” Canezaro said. “Not everyone is an athlete, so this is one other way to let our children be well-rounded.”

Jarreau believes the return of a band program could bring benefits to the school system through the lessons they learn not only about music, but life in general.

‘It’s about self-attention, ambition, giving your total focus to a goal and seeing it through and perfecting your craft,” he said. “That pays dividends in all walks of life.”