Hours of Practice Pay off for Band at MPA

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I. Hanewicz

By Isabel Hanewicz, Robinson High School

Marching band members are quick to remind others: band performances don’t come together overnight. The numbers don’t lie: at the bare minimum, they spend six hours after school each week. The cars leave, the teachers leave, even the sunlight begins to leave, but they’re still practicing in the back end of the student parking lot.

Preparation for the 2015 season was intense, as usual. After receiving straight superiors at MPA in 2013 and 2014, the band knew anything less than that would be falling short, and straight superiors take work.

“We all knew that straight superiors was the score we wanted, but in preparation, we were just pushed to do our absolute best,” mellophone player Deanna Netzer (’17) said.

On the second day of summer, they were back at the school for three hours of mandatory band rehearsal, 5 to 8 p.m. Band doesn’t take breaks.

MPA grades the band’s performance in six categories: Music 1, Music 2, Marching and Maneuvering, General Effect, Auxiliary and Percussion, as well as assigning the band an overall score.”

In August, their five-day band camp, completed in a six-day span, totaled 49 hours of practicing. And yes, camp is mandatory.

During football season, there were weekends where they arrived back at the school at 1 a.m. Saturday morning from a game just to return seven or eight hours later for a 12-15 hour long day of practice and competition.

Take a look at the band member’s Snapchats, and quite a few will have stories around 2 or 3 a.m. the Sunday morning
after their competitions, groups of friends sitting at an iHop or Steak n’ Shake, finally getting a rest and some well-deserved food. When the daylight comes around, they’ll have to cram in all of the “normal” teenage weekend activities- hanging with friends, homework- into the rest of the day.

Band members knew this year, getting straight superiors wouldn’t be as easy. Last year, in 2014, the ranking was almost-assured. This year, it was anything but.

Walking onto the Riverview football field a little past four o’clock on an unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon, they knew their goal. They just weren’t sure if they were going to reach it.

But, as it turns out, an almost-relentless level of practice pays off. Straight superiors, for the third year in a row.

“It was honestly a struggle, last year we knew we were going to get superior, this year was iffy,” trumpet section leader David Burnside (’16) said. “We came together and kicked butt, I’m just really proud.”

MPA grades the band’s performance in six categories: Music 1, Music 2, Marching and Maneuvering, General Effect, Auxiliary and Percussion, as well as assigning the band an overall score. Scores range from Superior, Excellent, Good, Fair and Poor. The Knights received a “Superior” in every category.

“Hard work really does pay off,” tuba section leader Kenny Matteson (’17) said. “I can’t explain how proud I am of my section and my team.”

And, if just for a while, they reveled in the accomplishment, taking photos with the plaque which named them “District Marching Festival Superior,” putting it up on Snapchat stories because, yes, it is a big deal.

But not for long. Their final performance of the season is Nov. 21, less than two weeks away. It’s at Tropicana Field, not just another high school football field, for the state semifinals. It’ll be their first experience at states, so the goal is to do as best as they can against much bigger schools, the ones with over 300 kids in marching band and the ones who have an 18 wheeler painted just for the band’s use.

Thursday, they’ll be back in the parking lot. 4 to 6:30 p.m.

Mandatory marching band rehearsal.