Tag Archives: band

Marching band quests for success

With Quest as a theme, the marching band will take the audience on a magical adventure during their halftime performances.

“Think of a video game quest,” band director Andrew Paul said. “You’re going through levels of a video game, and you’ve got to pick up things along the way so you can get through the final challenge.”

Senior drum line captain Shannon Kurfees said that, while acting out the video game, the band presents obstacles, such as mazes, that escalate up to the boss level.

According to senior Nicole Gerber, the mood is calm during the first movement of the performance.

“The second movement is when the climax happens [and there’s a] difficult time,” Gerber said.

The band then resolves the conflict in the third and final movement. Paul describes the music for this year’s show as haunting and menacing.

“The tone is set [as] dangerous, because they’re on a mission,” junior Hannah Savignac said. “There’s a haunted ballad in the middle that sounds really nice. [The ballad] has a lighter feeling to it. But, for the most part, [the tone] is eerie, creepy, and on the darker side.”

To prepare for the season, the marching band travels to West Virginia every summer and stays at a 4-H campsite. There, they learn and begin to memorize the entire show by rehearsing all day for a week. The band then practices after school, until 5:30 p.m., three to four times a week for the remainder of the season.

The marching band lost color guard instructor Alison Winfield this season, and the color guard decreased from six members to just two: juniors Aubrey Holcomb and Lizzie Rairigh. English teacher Lindell Palmer, who has won numerous awards for coaching color guard at other schools, is helping choreograph the color guard this year.

“The color guard tells the story. They’re the actors and actresses,” Savignac said. “[They] can’t portray the picture as well with only two [people].”

The marching band will not be attending the National Marching Band Championship in November, as they have in previous years because they do not have the money, according to Paul. The band raises most of the money for competition fees through events such as Tag Day, car washes, and the band’s annual Rehearse-A-Thon.

Gerber, as pit captain, is disappointed the band is not going to nationals.

“I think it puts a damper [on things]. What are we working towards? We don’t have a goal for the end of the season,” Gerber said. “It feels like the season is just going to drop off.”

Senior drum major Austin Evans was also discouraged, but he remains upbeat even though he, like Gerber, will not be able to experience nationals again.

“At first I was sad. There were a lot of hurt feelings,” Evans said. “I think it will be okay. One competition isn’t anything.”
The disappointment has not affected Evans’ goals and expectations.

“I demand perfection,” Evans said. “That’s the goal. Do we always get it? No. But I will push them as hard as I can to reach perfection every time.”

~emma dixon, photography director

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Marching band takes the field

Senior Kelly Shaw is the drum major of the marching band; she not only conducts the band, she leads the entire show.

“For me, it’s a whole new ball game,” Shaw said. “Last year I was the junior drum major in the back conducting. Now, I’m in the front conducting. It’s a step up. We have captains and lieutenants. For me it’s interesting to be the one in charge and have everyone look up to you.”

Shaw’s passion for music began six years ago and has led to her leadership role today.

“I first got introduced to it back in the sixth grade. My brother was doing marching band, and he told me about how fun it was,” Shaw said. “I started playing flute in the sixth grade, and I still play it to this day.”

The marching band begins practice with stretching, and then breaks up into sections based on their instruments or into basics block, where they practice the fundamentals of marching. Members warm up musically and then begin practicing for the drill, or show. Dot books lay out where each student is supposed to stand and how the show is set up.

“The most challenging part for me is having to be strict with the band,” Shaw said. “I don’t like to be angry with them, but at the same time I’m strict because I have to be. They know whenever I’m serious, they have to be.”

Junior Austin Evans is junior drum major and hopes to be the leader, next year.

“This year I’m learning the ropes of drum major so next year I can lead the band,” Evans said. “It takes a lot of talent to stay focused. Kelly can pick up places and know exactly where it is; that takes me awhile. I envy her.”

Marching band students attend band camp in West Virginia before school starts where they meet the incoming freshmen and get acclimated with the show they will be performing.

“It’s always interesting to get to know the freshmen. You never know what to expect,” Shaw said. “We say we’re a family. We all know each other and encourage each other. I love that. It’s a sport that needs everyone else to complete it.”

In 2009 the marching band won group A competition, which enabled them to be an open, or competitive, band, and they have stayed an open band ever since. The marching band has five competitions a year. The fourth competition is states, held in Virginia Beach, and the fifth is nationals held in the MET Life Stadium in New Jersey. FHS’s marching band gets invited to nationals each year. Competitions are judged on a scale of 0 to 100; this year the marching band hopes to break 90.

“You have to be invited to nationals,” Shaw said. “Last year we scored in the 80s, and we did really well, so they invited us back.”

This year the marching band is putting on a production based on Hansel and Gretal, in which Shaw plays the old lady who narrates the story. The first competition will be Sept. 27 at Herndon High School. Marching band productions involve many people in addtion to the musicians. They have a composer, the color guard, a pit crew, and people who make their props.

“The props are mostly done by parents. Band moms and dads make the world go round,” Shaw said. “They do everything. They make us meals and do our hair-things like that.”

Shaw believes the best part about being a part of the team is the friendships she’s made.

“I’ve made so many friends, and it’s made high school so much easier,” Shaw said. “I remember freshman year. I was lost, and I ended up finding a band kid who showed me where to go and took me to my class. I’m friends with everyone in band. We all know each other.”

~SaraRose Martin, co-editor-in-chief

Band busts out rhythm, blues

Nothing gives a high school a colorful splash of character like a school band. Band teacher Andrew Paul shares this sentiment and aims to enhance school spirit through his new R&B band.
“I wanted to start a jazz band, but we didn’t have enough instruments for that,” Paul said. “But we did have the instruments to go in a different direction. It’s not really an R&B band; I just call it that because I couldn’t think of anything better to call it. We’re playing a little bit of everything.”
The R&B band practices every Monday for an hour and plays a variety of music stretching across multiple genres. Freshman Nick Thorpe, a veteran bassist, will be performing with the R&B band.
“I wanted to meet other musicians and stuff like that,” Thorpe said. “Bands are fun. In middle school I played bass at the spring and winter concerts, but this is the first time I’ll be playing for this school.”
Thorpe is primarily a metal player, but values the experience and versatility he gains from performing other types of music.
“It’ll be a learning experience,” Thorpe said. “I want to be a studio musician, so I feel like I need to get experience with different genres.”
Two-year guitarist sophomore Jacqueline Crabtree decided to join the R&B band so that she could have a place to play guitar outside of her house.
“I’ve played with a band, and I go to open mike at Drum N’ Strum, but this is my first time playing guitar for the school,” Crabtree said. “I’m a strings player, so I have to get used to playing with the all the horns, but it’s really cool to play with other musicians. It’s not too difficult, because it’s very laid back.”
The band is currently working on “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne, “Louie, Louie” by Richard Berry, and “Chameleon” by Herbie Hancock. Students who are interested in joining should contact Mr. Paul in person or via e-mail.
“The music we’re rehearsing is flexible for pretty much any instrument that shows up to rehearsal,” Paul said. “Unless someone shows up with bagpipes, we’re pretty much covered with the music we have.”
The band is early in the rehearsal process, but Paul is already preparing performances.
“We’re planning to play at the faculty/student basketball game, we have an end of the year concert, and we’ve got something planned uptown for later in May,” Paul said. “We might play before or after school one day; you can never tell.”

~Patrick Duggan, news director

Students attend band clinic

Senior Collin Steves (far left) practices percussion during a band class at the University of South Carolina’s honors band program.
Senior Collin Steves (far left) practices percussion during a band class at the University of South Carolina’s honors band program.

Over 400 students from high schools in Maryland through Texas take a trip every year to The University of South Carolina to participate in the college’s renowned Band Clinic. Band directors nominate 10th grade and older students who are eligible to participate, and they take the students on a four day road trip to USC where they learn instrument and performance techniques and have the opportunity to play in front of the entire university.
“This camp is top notch,” band director Andrew Paul said. “The guest conductors are the best in the world. I’ve been to at least seven other band camps like this one in respectable universities, but none of them come close to the quality of USC. Everything they have is top notch.”
This year, Paul nominated seniors Kayla Griffith, Emma Nobile, and Ben Thompson, junior Mya Payne, and sophomore Kristi Lapins to attend the camp. The group travels to the campus on Valentines Day and returns that Sunday.
The students in the clinic will audition for a spot in one of four ensembles. Each of the four ensembles consists of around 100 students and a hired conductor. Three of the bands have equal skill levels while the fourth is an honor band with the exceptionally able students. The students have lunch and then attend concerts performed by the university’s band and by professional symphonies.
“I absolutely think students should go,” Paul said. “I attended this one as a high school student. They get experience and learn a lot, to say the least.”
The students lodge at a nearby hotel, and Friday and Saturday they have intense 8 a.m. to 11p.m. instruction on their instruments. University professors teach the students instrument techniques, with at least one professor for every instrument. They also spend this time practicing for their performance. On Sunday, all four ensembles perform what they’ve practiced in front of the university students at a world class facility that rivals the Kennedy Center.
Last year Thompson attended the camp with a few other students from the county, and he will go again this year.
“It’s pretty intense because you have to learn all the songs in just two days,” Thompson said. “But everyone’s so experienced, so it’s more fun rather than a big challenge. I want to do it again and see if I can do better in the standings. I hope to get to the honor band. Last year I came close, but this year I want to break though.”
Paul says that all the students that have gone in the previous years have said they enjoyed it. The students get to roam the city, eating at really nice restaurants and visiting record stores. They also get to know each other well, particularly during the seven hour car ride. Senior Collin Steves also went to the camp last year.
“Ben Thompson was the only person I was rooming with that I knew,” Steves said. “But the other guys and I became good friends. All of us who went down together were just with each other a lot, whether we were practicing, eating, at the hotel, or just hanging out. We were the only people we knew in a program with hundreds of students, so it brought us closer.”
The clinic also allows students to get a taste of what majoring in music would be like, and it looks good on college résumés.
“After the trip I realized that I didn’t want to major in percussion or performance but still wanted to major in music,” Steves said. “So now I’m auditioning at colleges with piano and a major in music business.”
Both Steves and Thompson were surprised at how fun the conductors made the experience, despite the intensity of the clinic.
“I enjoyed it,” Steves said. “The place is great. You are surrounded by people who are passionate about music, and you learn off of other students, as well as the conductors. I would recommend it for any student if they are passionate about their instrument.”

~Jake Lunsford, staff reporter