For most freshman, the first year of high school can be intimidating and somewhat scary, but for those who join in the Lake Norman High School Marching Wildcats band camp, the experience is more like coming home to a new family.
Braving heat indexes of over 100 degrees on Aug. 17, band members learned the formations and paces to go with the music. Their “Timeline” themed performance, including music from the early 1900s through today — with a hint of the future — will be presented at three major high school marching band competitions this year.
Chris Brown has been director of bands at Lake Norman High School since the school began in 2002.
“We started with nothing (equipment or uniforms) and had 35 kids,” he said.
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Under Brown’s direction those 35 students built a reputation for excellence.
“For three or four years those kids won nothing under a superior rating,” the highest score you can earn in marching band competitions. Brown said. He instructed the students how he wanted things taught and turned a lot of the responsibilities over to them.
Lake Norman High School also has two concert bands and a wind ensemble that have earned multiple superior awards.
“Over the last 15 years they are the primary instructors for band camp. I trust them implicitly and they do a fantastic job,” he said. As the veterans teach the freshmen the ways of marching band, bonds are formed and the 115 members become one big family, united in a common goal.
“We have hopefully created an environment where excellence is the expectation,” said Brown.
Senior Sydney Isom, 17, was attending her fourth band camp and said she didn’t mind sharing her drum major role with fellow senior Sinjun Chapman, 17. “It’s always really exciting seeing all the new freshmen come in. They’re a little scared but we gradually bring them in to our family,” she said.
For four days, Monday through Thursday, the students rose early, worked on drills from 9 a.m. until the heat would drive them indoors where they would fine-tune their music. They returned to the field at 4 p.m., staying for two more hours as they worked on playing the music while moving through formations.
“The hardest thing for freshmen to learn about marching band is the fact that there is really nothing hard about marching band,” Brown said. He said new members fear that they will be the one to go the wrong way or play the wrong note, messing up the performance and possibly angering their fellow band members.
“They all have their doubts and they are scared of it, but by the time they are with us for one day they understand that we are going to take care of them and that’s not gonna happen,” he said.
Brown said he was proud that this year was the first time that the band had mastered all of the drills for a complete performance while at the camp.
In addition to marching band competitions, the Wildcats have traveled out of state to perform throughout the years. In 2009, they represented the USA at the London New Year’s Day Parade, and this year they will be traveling to New York for a band trip, and to perform a patriotic concert on the deck of the USS Intrepid. The Marching Wildcats also travel to Disney World every two years as a spotlight performer with about150 kids and parents.
You can catch their first performance on Aug. 25 at the Lake Norman High School home football game. There they will be joined by other musicians, who can’t commit to the competition practice schedule, for the LNHS “Tradition” Football band performance in the stands and at half time.
Marty Price is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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