‘Any Way the Wind Blows…’: Marching band polishes performance before October festival

marchingband1sierraBy: Sierra Steen

Dressed up in dazzling uniforms, plumes rising above their heads and instruments reflecting the dome lights, the band patiently waits to perform. The drum major whistles, and the entire band is standing at attention in designated spots.

A booming voice starts to speak, and after making sure the final preparations are complete, the familiar phrase, “The field is yours for performance” echoes across the dome.

Hearts begin to pound, especially those of sophomores who have never performed on the college field before. Juniors and seniors feel more at ease, as the turf is familiar territory to them. The whistle blows.

Horns pop up, and the show begins. Individual members each move to their designated spots, which they have been practicing to hit for two weeks now, including two early morning rehearsals. Instruments sing out their respective parts, all blending together to create one great sound.

Suddenly, everything stops. Feet cease to take another step, instruments are pulled away from lips and the field is silent. Just a heartbeat later, and seemingly out of nowhere, a jazzy trumpet lick projects out of the crowd of marchers. An alto saxophone sings out the next line of the duet. Senior Brenda Sevcik takes a deep breath and plays the second part of the trumpet solo, full of accidentals and grace notes that spill out of her horn effortlessly. Junior Katherine Campbell’s fingers fly over the saxophone keys and ends the duet gracefully, and before the audience can even react, the band is moving again. The crowd is fully engaged at this point, watching the people on the field create beautiful shapes and sounds.

Just as soon as the show started, it ends. The crowd cheers as the band marches off the field, proud of how its efforts paid off.

This is only what the audience sees. Nobody but the band sees the behind-the-scenes work that goes into putting together the show.

During fourth hour, the band goes out onto the high school football field to practice its drills, repeating their movements so that they can build muscle memory. The first two weeks were tough — students had to battle getting back into the swing of things, the heat and learning how to march and play at the same time.

Temperatures crept into the 90s as students spent their band period learning new drills outdoors. The high temperatures did not stop them, though.

“I was really happy with how the kids handled the warm weather last week. It was a productive week. None of us enjoyed the heat. Would we have gotten more done if it was nicer weather? Maybe a little bit,” band director Gerald Ramsey said, adding that even though it was not as enjoyable working in the heat, the kids still had fun and got a lot done.

Being a soloist brings along more challenges, such as stage fright. This year’s soloists include senior Isaac Smith on trumpet, Sevcik on trumpet and Campbell on alto saxophone. Smith said that the nervousness turns into adrenaline, while Sevcik said she doesn’t feel nervous before or during, but feels it set in after she’s done performing.

The hard work also pays off outside the band.

“Any time we go on a trip, we talk about how we need to behave in public, and every time we get positive feedback from wherever we’ve been travelling. I see those sorts of things carrying over into daily life,” Ramsey said. “Kids are becoming mature and polite people. Bigger than that, I see kids in the band helping out other kids in the band who are struggling. That’s always a gratifying thing to see.”

Band director Kyle Engelhardt agreed, emphasizing how well the kids work together to be greater players and people in general.

“This year’s band seems to enjoy working well together and seems to enjoy the aspect of performing well and having fun,” Engelhardt said. ”I think everyone realizes in the band and during our show that everybody is important. That’s what makes marching band so fun: knowing that everyone’s part is important, so when we’re all together working together and having fun, we get a cool product.”

And Ramsey said he’s excited about this year’s performance. “I think this year’s show should have a strong appeal for our Friday night audiences. It’s a lot of fun to play; the kids were excited to learn the music. I was excited to come back to school to start working on the music,” Ramsey said.

Students had lots of fun while overcoming challenges. Junior Delaney Schaffner said that “Bohemian Rhapsody” will be hard to memorize, but she’s looking forward to learning it.

“We are doing very well, but there are some parts that are still iffy. We will do good, though,” junior Ellie Haan said.

Sophomore Alexa Baylong said that she looks forward to the next few years of marching band, and that she really enjoys the people she’s working with right now. “They’re really helpful, and the people in marching band are are nice and fun to be around.”

As it’s the seniors’ last year, more bittersweet feelings are milling inside of them.

“It’s sad to think that my three-year adventure with marching band will come to a close soon. However, I’m excited for the closure that will happen when we come to an end with our marching season,” senior Elizabeth Swanson said.

With all of the hard work they put in, every time the band marches off the field after a tiring but fulfilling performance, the members know that the cheering crowd appreciates the band’s efforts, and that they produced something that they can all be proud of.

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