Practice Makes Perfect: Band, orchestra students give advice for practicing over break, adapting to higher level performing arts

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Noah Sim, marching band member and senior

Is there a specific practice schedule for marching band over the summer?

We practice on weekends and a couple of weeks in the middle of the summer. We get a month off, but then in August we have these two weeks where we practice for 11 hours a day for four days of the week, and essentially, those are the hardest weeks of the summer. After those are done, we go into school and we go back to our after-school rehearsal schedule. After going through those two weeks, though, you know you can get through anything.

Shruthi Ravichandran
Noah Sim, marching band member and senior, rehearses on his euphonium during summer marching band rehearsals. Sim began to play the euphonium for marching a year ago. Sim said the summer rehearsals allow for the marching band to get a head start, as well as integrate freshmen with upperclassmen.

What benefits come from practicing so much over the summer?

As we practice over the summer, we get ahead of the other schools… (creating) our fundamental baseline of skills (over summer) is what makes us so successful. 

What does marching band focus on over the summer for the upcoming season?

For the upperclassmen, we’ve been doing this for two or three years, but the freshmen are just starting, so we have to go back to the fundamentals… We have to learn how to take just one step forward, because marching band is such a team activity that if some members aren’t as strong as others, everything can fall apart. It’s really important for us in the summer to establish those fundamentals.

Does the marching band do any bonding activities over the summer?

It’s less of the whole band, because it’s so big… so it’s more of section bonding. For example, I am a part of the baritone section, and so our section does our own bonding activities. We go paintballing once a year, we do a sleepover and we have a chant we have been doing for more than 20 years. Each section has its own activities, so that’s how we bond.

Marching Band Director Michael Pote

Shruthi Ravichandran
Marching band director Michael Pote conducts students during summer rehearsals. Pote said the summer rehearsals makes the school year run smoother.

How does the marching band practice over the summer?

The quality of practice is way more important than the quantity of practice, so what we have done is we have limited the practice time based on groups who are competing at the same level, so we don’t rehearse as much but we try to rehearse more efficiently, which obviously creates better performances.

Why is it important for students to practice during the summer?

It gives us a head start on the year. There’s so much complexity involved with putting together a show of this magnitude that having a few extra rehearsals over the summer helps us get a head start.

Owen Eckart, Camerata member and junior

What are your plans for practicing over the summer?

I’ll be continuing my lessons as normal, and I’m probably going to be learning some sort of viola in place of the school music that we typically do. I’ll also be going to a string camp in Butler. The practice time will probably remain the same (as during the school year), or maybe be even more since I’ll have a lot more time since I’ll have no homework. My practice varies a lot since I’m not always consistent.

Shruthi Ravichandan
Despite school coming to an end, Camerata member and junior Owen Eckart practices viola for his private lessons.

How important is it for musicians to practice year-round?

I think it’s critical that people practice over the summer because a lot of it is muscle memory. If you don’t practice, then it’s going to feel weird getting back into it. Even sometimes after not practicing for a week, like during spring break, it was rough trying to get back.

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