The end of summer usually means last trips to the beach, last visits with the family, and last minute back-to-school shopping. However, that is not always the case; for kids in the Verona Marching Maroon and White, the last days of summer means the first days of an intense marching band schedule.
The Verona High School Marching Band is made up of about 85 students this year. Under the direction of Erik Lynch, the students start their marching band season in early June. Wednesday night rehearsals this year ran from June 13 to July 18, with one additional rehearsal on August 15 before Mini Camps started. These weekly night rehearsals lasted from 6 to 9 p.m., and provided a foundation for what was to come in camps later in the summer.
Wednesday night rehearsals focused on fundamentals: Learning the basics of marching with Jesse Burbank, the visual marching instructor, and learning the music for this years’ show with Lynch. The show this year is called “American Colors”, featuring music from prominent American composers such as George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, and even music from the progressive rock band, Jefferson Airplane.
The difference between Wednesday night rehearsals, Mini Camps and Band Camp are immense, and they were even greater this year. In the past, Mini Camps were mandatory only for the color guard and percussion; this year, they were mandatory for everyone. The morning session focused on music and, for the color guard, maneuvers. The afternoons were reserved for what the marching band world calls “drill”.
Drill refers to the formations that marchers make on the field during the show. To learn drill takes an extensive amount of energy from both staff and students, and the high temperatures and humidity those days did not make it any easier to get through the three-hour rehearsals. However, the energy remained high, and the students were able to learn about one-quarter of their marching band show, something they had not been able to do in the past. .
The staff and students had a break from band until August 25, when Band Camp started. On this day, the students participated in a car wash from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., then had a full rehearsal from 3 to 6 p.m., followed by a pool party at the Verona Pool. On Sunday, the day lasted from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Monday through Thursday’s rehearsals lasted from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The most intense of the days also proved the most unbearable – the ensemble’s band camp was right in the middle of a heat wave.
Though these high temperatures proved difficult, the Marching Maroon and White proved that they were stronger than the heat; they pushed through all of Band Camp, and eventually managed to learn their entire show. To deal with the heat, the Verona Music Parents Association provided the kids with cooling zones – three big tents for shade, boxes of ice and popsicles, and a sprinkler o play in during breaks. Senior clarinet section leader Maeve McGinley encapsulated the light-hearted, but motivated energy of the entire band by saying, “Of course Band Camp came in the worst heat wave of the summer, but the Marching Maroon and White pulled through creating a great show, with a little help from the sprinkler breaks!”
Usually during Band Camps, there is a mad dash to get the whole show on the field in time, but this time around was different thanks to the Mini Camp work. “Band Camp was really productive,” said Kayla Golebieski, a senior flute player and band lieutenant. “Even though we had some rough parts along the way, we were always able to snap out of it and keep pushing forward,” she added. “From here on out we just have to clean and polish the show.” The students performed a final run through of the show for the community on Thursday night, showcasing the time, energy, and effort every single one of them put into Band Camp.
Perhaps the best part about Band Camp is the friendships made during it. “It’s a great experience to meet people, especially for freshmen,” said Alison Zanders, a sophomore color guard member. “I met a lot of my close friends through color guard and marching band.” Band Camp helps new students enter Verona High School feeling welcomed and comfortable.
This year’s extra work is making returning students feel more comfortable too. “I think we’re pretty well prepared for the season,” said Maria Serra, a sophomore flute player.
Assistant Drum Major Molly Ligon, a senior clarinet player expressed, “After working hard in the heat for a week, we were able to complete our show on the field and show it off to family and friends, just in time for us to perform at the first home football game of the season!”
The Verona High School Marching Maroon and White has many other performances lined up for the season; you can see which ones you can make by visiting veronamusic.org.