During the first two weeks in August, when many of their classmates are squeezing in fun for the last days of their summer vacation, the 47 marching band members for Mallard Creek High School were getting up early to face the heat and practice their routines.
On Aug. 12, junior drum major James Hoover, 16, had two American flags attached to the shoulders of his shirt as he led the band in stretching exercises. This year’s performance, “Dreams in Red, White and Blue,” incorporated many pieces of famous patriotic songs and he wanted to dress the part.
For three hours each morning, the marching band, which includes an 11-member color guard, went through drills designed to make the group come together as a unit. It was hard work performing the music as they marched through the steps for their show as temperatures rose in the morning sun.
Band director Paul Boren said they are a small band but they are growing. He said that students have to start learning to play music in middle school if they want to be in the marching band. “We expect them to know how to play their instruments when they come to us.”
The biggest challenge that newcomers face is “to coordinate the marching and playing together, but once they get over that hump they do fine,” said Boren. “It usually takes a little bit of time to get that going and they are doing a good job so far.”
This will be the first year as drum major for James Hoover. He urges younger players to ask for help if they need it. “During band camp we all become like a big family. So if you start to struggle or you need help with something we are all here to help you,” he said.
Hoover tells the freshmen, “Once we get to the football games it’s a lot more fun.”
He’s excited about his first performance as the drum major: “I am looking forward to the first game, where I get to see everything and all the hard work we put into this come together and to life on the field.”
Freshman clarinet player Darius Simone, 14, said he is becoming comfortable performing with the band.
“It seems really hard at first, memorizing the music and having to move around and play at the same time. But once you start doing it, it becomes second nature,” he said.
During the heat of the day the practices move inside the school. After a 30-minute lunch break, band members break into sections, to work on their parts in separate rooms, while the color guard perfects their choreography in the gym. After about an hour the instrument players get back together to practice the music as a group to finish the day.
Director Boren said that in addition to supporting the football team at all home games and some away games, the band will enter three major competitions this year, one more than last year. The band’s first performance was at the game between Mallard Creek and Independence high schools Aug. 22 at Memorial Stadium.
Boren said that once school starts, “The band will continue to practice three days a week, 2:30 to 4:45 p.m., so there is constant improvement happening throughout the marching season.”
Marty Price is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mallard Creek High School also has a concert band that holds indoor performances several times a year. Information on both the marching and concert bands: www.maverickbands.org.
The first performance in competition for the Marching Mavericks will be Oct. 17 at East Rowan High School.