Marching band working to get less experienced members ready for in-person competitions, halftime performances

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Due to last year’s COVID-19 cancellations and hybrid schedule, freshman and sophomore marching band members have had little to no experience performing at in-person competitions. However, the marching band has worked hard all summer to prepare a new show for halftime performances and the competition season. 

(Marissa Finney
Band teacher Andy Cook said via email the marching band came out of the pandemic with students of varying ability levels, compared to past years.

“We have the new ninth grade members that have never moved and played at the same time and due to the pandemic, the ninth and 10th grade members have not been to a competitive performance yet.”

George Huang, marching band member and junior, said he would advise new or less experienced members to put the necessary work in to feel performance ready. 

“(While performing) is cool, if I had not done any of the work I did freshman year, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it at all, or liked the experience as much,” he said. “Whatever you need to do to make yourself feel like ‘ok, that was worth it. I put my effort, I put my time into it and I got what I wanted out of it,’ that is what you should do.”

However, Cook said incoming freshman and sophomore members can struggle with the intense practice schedule, after a year of practicing largely at home.

“A lot of students were staying home and not as active as a normal year would be,” said Cook. “So being outside for five to six hours learning the basics was a little different for many of the members. I try to tell the members that this is a marathon, not a sprint. There are many concepts we teach them that they might not understand at first, but as the season progresses they realize and use everything we’ve been teaching them.”

According to Hannah Kobza, marching band member and senior, while rehearsals require hard work, the new members will understand its worth when live performances begin.

“Sometimes (practices) can be hard, just because the hours are super long and sometimes it’s really hot outside. So it can just be intense that way, with the amount of time that we’re actually doing it,” she said.

Huang said practices haven’t changed significantly to accommodate less experienced members, but the goal is to prepare everybody for performances. (Marissa Finney)

“While last year’s students are good, they’ve never been to competitions. I feel like as we near the competition season we will start to buckle down more on them to help them reacclimate and then they can help the freshmen coming in as well,” Huang said. “Right now, we’re treating upperclassmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors with the same respect.”

Huang said despite many members’ lack of experience, he is optimistic the band will do well in competition as the show has many exciting elements. The musical theme is from a famous Paganini orchestra piece known for its fast pace and complexity; the show is titled The Expanse.

“Basically, we’re going to be practicing a lot with density and making sure we have very few people on the field, then suddenly a ton of people come out behind props. So it’s going to truly be a show… that’s something I think even strangers to the marching band can understand,” he said. 

Cook said Carmel students should continue to support the band, since the group has continued to work hard and demonstrate excellence, despite the restrictions last year and less experienced members.

“I think the CHS student body has been very supportive of the band, realizing the amount of time the members commit and the complexity of what they are doing. Each football game they see a little more of the show and how much it improves,” he said.

Kobza said the best way to support the marching band is by cheering the members on at football games and helping them raise money.

Huang said this year’s marching band, including the less experienced freshmen and sophomores, still has great prospects. 

“I’m very confident that we will do very well, I think,” he said. “Of course we’re going to make mistakes along the way, but I think our team this year is so fast at fixing things it’s actually kind of insane. I’m really proud of this team so far and I think we’re going to do really well.”

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