Long days, sunburns, tan lines, and hours of repetition. Marching band rehearsal starts bright and early every day, with students always preparing for the next football game or marching competition.
The theme for marching season this year is “West Side Story,” with music by Leonard Bernstein.
“I had never actually seen ‘West Side Story,’ so I had no idea what to expect,” Drum Major Casey Yeaman ‘18 said. “Now after working with the music, I am able to appreciate it a bit more.”
Besides the directors, Myron McReynolds and Aaron Ottmar, drum majors also play a large role in leading the band. This year’s drum majors are Jacob Fields ‘18, Casey Yeaman ‘18 and Lindy Rublaitus ‘19. Besides overseeing the band, drum majors also take turns conducting songs. Drum majors and individual section leaders are responsible for learning the formations before everyone else so that they are able to help their sections and make the learning process easier for the rest of the band.
“The most difficult part is probably time management. It’s not so much creating the show but getting things done when you need them done. Everything’s on a timeline,” McReynolds said. “For us, our main goal is the first competition show on September 30th. We do things incrementally. For our first show, we only performed half the program and we gradually add to that.”
Before the band even gets started on learning the choreography, drum majors and section leaders need to make sure the band has mastered the fundamentals.
“We need to make sure everyone can march, and march in the same way,” Fields said. “How we look on the field is a crucial part of the show.”
It takes a lot of time and practice to complete a full halftime show. Students must memorize not only the music, but also the drill for all four songs. Before school starts, band members go through “Heck Week,” so they have a solid start on the halftime show by the time school begins. Heck Week consists of two eight-hour rehearsals for 10-12th graders, and shorter practices for freshmen. However, Heck Week doesn’t solely consist of long hours in the sun. Section leaders carry on the tradition of “Freshman Wake-Up,” which serves as a bonding experience between freshmen and upperclassmen.
“Heck Week is like a school day camp for marching band,” Yeaman said.
“This is when we teach everyone in grades 10-12 how to march, as well as teach freshman the fundamentals for pregame. We try to get a stable base all around for all of the students,” Fields said.
As for the directors, they must first come up with a concept and music for the show. After this is decided, they work with a drill writer to come up with the formations the band creates while on the field.
“The most important and thrilling part of the process is to see the evolution of the band and to see that we are improving,” McReynolds said. “It’s not really whether we win or lose or where we place, but rather that at the end of the 4-6 weeks we can say ‘We worked hard and we’ve got things to a place where we can feel good about what we’ve done,’ and that’s the ultimate satisfaction.”