South High tuba player chosen to be part of U.S. Army All-American marching band

December 09, 2011|By JULIE E. GREENE |
  • Richard Mounts, a South Hagerstown High School band member, gives thumbs up after receiving his U.S. Army All-American Marching Band jacket, cap and band hat during a presentation on Friday.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

As a tuba player for South Hagerstown High School, Richard Mounts said it can be fun to sneak up behind someone playing the theme to "Jaws."

On Jan. 7, he won't be sneaking up on anyone during halftime of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

The senior has been chosen to be part of the U.S. Army All-American marching band and will be playing the sousaphone during halftime of the nationally televised football game.

"I'm really excited," said Mounts, 17, who lives south of Hagerstown.

On Friday, the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band Selection Tour stopped by South High to honor Mounts and present him with his bowl jacket.

The sousaphone and tuba are similar, with the instrument's bell facing forward on the sousaphone, whereas it faces skyward on the tuba, said Noel Kunkle, Mounts' private music teacher.

"Originally, I wanted to play the flute, but I changed my mind and said 'tuba,'" said Mounts, recalling the day at E. Russell Hicks Middle School when students chose which instrument they wanted to learn.

"Mom comes home, and there's a tuba sitting in the dining room," Mounts said.

Adam Liberman, with All-American Games, said 1,300 applicants initially applied for the honor through the National Association for Music Education.

The top 125 high school senior marching musicians and color guard members are chosen, according to the event website.

Mounts submitted a video of a marching routine, a video of him performing two compositions, and a video in which he talks about his experience as a musician.

Kunkle nominated Mounts for the U.S. Army All-American honor.

Kunkle said he learned about the program when his grandson was named to the All-American marching band.

Of the seven Maryland students named to the All-American marching band since its inception five years ago, two have been from Washington County public high schools, according to an email from Adam Liberman with All-American Games.

Kunkle also nominated Nate Lease, a North Hagerstown High senior last school year, who was named to last year's All-American marching band.

Mounts said he discussed the event with Lease, who told him it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"It's probably one of the highest honors that a kid could get. It's even bigger than all-state band," Kunkle said.

Mounts was recently named an alternate on the Maryland All-State Band, according to Kunkle and Mounts.

"He has the unique desire to want to practice and get better all the time," Kunkle said.

Mounts said he is looking into attending James Madison University, where he wants to study music education so he can become a music teacher.

Mounts also plays for the Williamsport Community Band and recently completed his Eagle Scout project for Boy Scouts Troop 4, which is based at John Wesley United Methodist Church in Hagerstown, Mounts said. He is the son of Kevin and Wanda Mounts.

The 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl will air on NBC at noon on Jan. 7. The game features the top 90 high school football players in an annual East vs. West match-up, according to

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