For two weeks, while peers sleep in or go on vacation, The Pride of Robinson Marching Band holds its annual band camp.
From 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, Aug. 4-15 the band members are marching and rehearsing. And they’re adding practices, 6:30- 8:30 p.m., each Tuesday and Thursday.
Freshman saxophone player Jessica Williams, 13, opened her drill book to check her position before she marked it by placing one of her poker chips on the ground. It is her first year in the band, and she is trying to learn fast.
“I hate getting up early. It can be hard at times, but it is fun at times, too,” she said. “After going over the plan a few times, it’s easier and I get it.”
On Aug. 5, Jay M. Robinson band director Blair Smith had the band go through their second drill in the book, marking their spots with poker chips. There are many drills and positions per song, and they repeat the drills several times until everyone understands the spacing and positioning.
After the players marked their spots, Smith had them go back to the starting point. As they played a few notes and walked through their movements, Smith said, “Keep your heads up. Don’t look down for those chips. … One, two, three … stop. Look down, how close are you to your chips?”
With 95 band members, including the color guard, those with a few years experience would be close to their chips; newer members were a bit off their marks.
Second year color guard member Erika Nixon said, “It is easier this year because I know the routines. The competitions are my favorite part because you can show off all the hard work you’ve done.”
She said the heat is her least favorite part.
Smith said during the hotter part of the day, the band practices inside. This year’s theme, “Snow,” features large, moveable snowflakes in the performance.
Third-year flutist Heather Lent was leading one part of the formation with her instrument in the proper position as they marched across the grass marked with yard lines like those on the football field.
“I love it. I would not rather do anything else,” Heather said. “I look forward to it. Finding out the show theme every year is exciting, but you really need to be totally dedicated. … (The hard work) is worth it. By the end of the season, we are one big family.”
The band is honing its skills for the competition season, halftime performances and parades for the coming school year. After the band camp, members will continue with after-school practices.
Jessica said, “I’m looking forward to our trip to the Georgia Dome competition,” referring to the October 31, Bands Of America Southeastern Championship in Georgia.
“Everyone should join the band,” she said.