Tiny Band, Big Heart – Rotan High School Yellowhammer Band

Most things in Texas are big. Landscapes, cities, counties, etc. But at a population of just over one thousand, that old saying “Everything’s bigger in Texas” doesn’t apply to Rotan, Texas. Except, in this case, the saying “big things come in small packages” really does apply!

Regularly fielding twenty-four members, the Yellowhammer Band is as small as they come. With a strong support base, the band is the main attraction for many families in Rotan. Many of the band members that are putting on the marching bibbers are second and third generation Yellowhammers.


Because the school is so small many of the students participate in a wide range of extra-curricular activities including band. When it comes time for halftime, three cheerleaders swap their pompoms for instruments, one of the best athletes from the football team trades out his pads for an instrument, and the school mascot comes out of the big beaked bird costume to become the band’s saxophone soloist.


This year the tiny little David-esque marching band got a chance to go up against the Goliaths at the UIL State Marching Band Competition for the first time in the school’s history. While bands like Allen High School’s Escadrille, often called “The Biggest Band In The Land,” march almost 800 members and are a fixture at the State level, this is the very first time that Rotan made it to State.

This allowed the band to cross off one of its most important pre-season goals: “Perform at State.”


Although, the outcome didn’t have a cinderella-story ending, with the unassuming Rotan bringing home the win at State, they did perform well and had the admiration and support of their faithful family, football team, and fans, who all season-long rallied around the band. People who didn’t even have children in the band came together to raise funds for the first-ever trip to State in San Antonio.

And although the band won’t have another chance to reach State until 2017, the Yellowhammer Band accomplished a big feat in making it to the State level the first year that they were eligible (based on UIL restructuring). And for a tiny band in the midst of a land of bigger is better, that exhibits HUGE HEART!

Source: Texas Monthly Photos by Greg Kendall-Ball

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