Band prepares to march into a new season
August 20, 2018
Whether the event is a spirit assembly or a halftime show at a football game, marching band strives to give a dynamic performance that gets spectators on their feet. However, marching in perfect sync, playing music from memory and performing as a large unit doesn’t come without preparation. Band council members and section leaders attended prep week (Aug. 8 to 10) and nearly 140 students attended band camp (Aug. 13 to 17), where they worked together for long hours to ensure the band is ready for a successful marching season.
Once they lined up, band students stood, ready to listen to marching orders. As they were given, students followed them in quick, sharp movements. To an outsider, these orders may have seemed like a secret code but band students knew exactly what they meant and were determined to memorize them by heart. For six hours a day for five days, students attended band camp to begin getting ready for the marching season.
The majority of the time was spent practicing songs that the band was going to play at upcoming football games. While learning the material is essential to any musical performance, senior and flutist Evelynn Li said the focus of band camp is to review marching technique and to memorize the marching routines.
“Especially because our first football game is so early this year, we just want to make sure everything is prepared, clean and refined,” Li said.
To reach this high level of execution, senior drum major Beatrice Duchastel led the group through drill downs frequently at band camp. Senior and snare drummer Gavin Wright described drill downs as a complex version of Simon Says that uses specific turns and moves that are unique to marching.
“Drill downs continue the military-inspired history of marching bands and reinforce the traditions of respect and precision needed for the specific type of music performance,” Wright said.
But this camp wasn’t all about practicing; it also gave students the chance to get to know the other people in the band. On the first day, junior and baritonist Chloe Person said students were assigned to different color groups and within these groups, they played a variety of card games and group activities throughout the week.
“The idea of color groups is that you get to bond with other members of the band that aren’t necessarily in your section or your friends,” Person said.
These bonding activities were particularly helpful to students who were new to the band, such as the incoming freshmen. Duchastel said one of the most exciting parts about camp was getting to meet them.
“This is the freshmens’ first time coming to Inglemoor and meeting high schoolers and I think it’s really awesome that band is going to be the first thing they see about Inglemoor,” Duchastel said.
With there being a group of incoming freshmen and a group of returning members, senior and saxophonist Eric Ni said the aspect of working as a group was heavily emphasized during camp.
“Within your squad, you have to work together. Then the squad has to work within the whole section, and the section has to work within the whole band,” Ni said. “[Essentially], all of those have to work together in order for the band to function.”
On the last day of camp, students performed in a showcase in front of their parents. Junior drum major Nathan Loutsis said this gave them the opportunity to demonstrate all of the skills and abilities they learned throughout the week.
“These skills will help the band during marching season by giving us a strong base set of skills and mechanics to build off of, [which will increase] the ability and complexity of our shows,” Loutsis said.
Upperclassmen strive to lead the way
Although there are band teachers, it is really the students who lead and shape the morale of the marching band. Juniors and seniors who were elected into the band council, as well as those who are section leaders, arrived on campus for prep week to get ready for band camp and discuss what they wanted the year to look like.
Working in front of the band, senior Beatrice Duchastel holds the most important position as the senior drum major. She described her role as “the head person who is the main link between the teacher and the student group.” Duchastel said that being the junior drum major last year helped her learn how to manage her peers and she hopes that she can be a model for this year’s junior drum major Nathan Loutsis.
“It’s a hard place to be because these are my friends and I want to be nice to them but at the same time, we just have to get things done. It’s going to be a good skill [for Nathan] to develop,” Duchastel said.
Meanwhile, working behind the scenes will be senior and band president Eric Ni. Ni said he will be figuring out logistics and helping to make sure the year runs smoothly. Senior and vice president Berk Uzuncaova said he will be assisting Ni and also wants to take it a step further by communicating effectively with the incoming band students.
“I’m going to make sure [the freshmen] understand what’s going on and keep checking in with them,” Uzuncaova said.
Efficient communication is fostered by the structure of band, said Duchastel; having a band council, section leaders and squad leaders allows for ease of conveying information to everyone.
“It’s going to be important that everyone knows what they’re doing and is learning everything correctly so that there’s no confusion,” Duchastel said. “[Using the structure of band] will be really important in making sure we have organized communication.”
This appears to be a common goal for band council members and section leaders alike. For example, senior and alto sax section leader Gisèle Charpentier said communication will be key for her section in particular because of the increase in players.
Although communication is an important aspect for a group that is as large as band, senior and percussion section leader Jakob Fortiner said practicing is just as essential, especially for drumline. Leading a section that is a vocal point of the band, Fortiner said they must develop synchronization, which they plan to do by having several practices outside of band.
“We already had two or three this summer with the new freshmen and we’re hoping to keep doing that as the season starts,” Fortiner said.
As marching season approaches, junior and historian Jenny Xiong said she hopes that marching band will positively shape everyone’s high school experience the way it did for her.
“Through playing, marching and getting to know others in the community, I grew to love marching band so much,” Xiong said. “Having such an enjoyable experience was important in inspiring me to get involved in band council, and I hope this will be the case for students this year as well.”