A week in the life of: A Band Member

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Adam Schasel, Staff Reporter

Often overlooked but always an essential component to the Friday Night Football festivities, few people are truly aware of the amount of effort the marching band puts in every day to perform both in the stands and on the field during the game and half-time show.

“Marching band is one of those activities that doesn’t get as much credit as it should,” Nicole Andrews, junior Majestic said. “They do so much for the Majestics and football team and really contribute to the school in a lot of ways.”

In addition to practicing up to eight hours a day for the final three weeks of summer, the band meets every day before school either on the football field or the adjacent parking lot to practice their marching show and routine with the Majestics.

Tuesday

As the previous day was Labor Day, the band gets a lengthened weekend to rest up for the week. Students are expected to arrive at the band hall at 6:45 in the morning so they can be on the football field warming up before rehearsal officially starts at 7:00. Stragglers file into the block (a band term for the default form in which the band positions itself in at the beginning of rehearsal) as director Jeff Jahnke begins to conduct the band through opening Concert F’s, instructing students to mark time as they play (marking time consists of moving your feet in place with the pulse coming from the metronome; Always step out with your left foot,” senior trumpet player Gabby Marshburn said). After warming up, the band plays through their show music and begins to run the marching sets of the show (a “set” is a single frame within the show). After practicing for an hour and a half, the band ends morning rehearsal and returns to the school. Students change clothes for the day and go to band class (either first or second period) where they work on the show music. After school french horns, saxophones, flutes, tubas, and bassoons have sectionals for 45 minutes to work on their All-Region Music for a band competition later in the year.

Wednesday

Just like the previous day, the band usually sets the block up within ten minutes of the official starting time of rehearsal. This year’s marching show is titled Fast Track: the Age of Steam and centers around the general sounds and rhythms of steam locomotives from the 19th century. After a final run-through of the marching show, the band returns to school and prepares for the day. Both trombones and the percussion have sectionals after school today for 45 minutes.

Thursday

Morning rehearsal goes smoothly, and the band begins to add new drills to the show, extending the marching component another few sets. Students arrive back at the school a little later than usual, under the impression that they would be practicing the Majestic routine to Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite.” After school, section leaders convene to talk about the upcoming events for the band, issues regarding students, and devise new ways to keep rehearsals productive. Later the entire band meets at 6:30 to have an afternoon rehearsal outside in the parking lot. This is a change in the old rehearsal structure; last year, the band did not practice late on Thursdays and instead practiced at 7:00 a.m. on Fridays. “We thought it would give them [the students] a chance to get some rest on Fridays, because those are such a long day,” Jahnke said when asked about the change. “We gave them that option and got feedback from the parents and students, and they seem to think that that was the best plan.” Today the main concentration is learning the marching parts to the second of four parts to the show. Normally evening rehearsal ends at 8:00 p.m., but due to lost time from Labor Day Jahnke extends the practice an extra 30 minutes. Despite this extension, Jahnke claims the following day that the entire band focused to have one of its most productive rehearsals, learning upwards of six sets of drill while managing to adjust parts added the previous week.

Friday

Game day arrives with an opportunity for band geeks to sleep in. Since the band rehearses late on Thursdays they don’t arrive at the band hall until 8:00 a.m.. After arriving with their uniforms and hats, the band quickly runs through the show and forms arcs on the track to play for the Majestic routine. After being thanked by the Majestics, the band returns the gesture and returns to school.

When school lets out, band geeks are left with a few choices: since this week’s game is a home game, they can either stay at school, go out or go home only to return an hour and a half later for the football game. Being a home game, students are responsible for their own meals.  After playing a pre-game concert at 7:00 p.m. the band files into the stands and students are given water by the band boosters. “I love going to football games,” Marshburn said. “If you like the games, they’re fun to watch, but if not you still get to dance, play music, and hang out with your friends.” The band plays stand tunes until ten minutes remain on the clock in the second quarter, at which point the band begins to put on their marching gloves and gauntlets and proceeds to the field behind the stadium to warm-up before the half-time show. The Frisco High School band, being the visitor, is allowed to perform first, only to play the exact same tune for their drill team that the band was going to play for theirs. Awkward tension roils throughout the band.

For the most part, half-time goes off without a hitch and so does the rest of the game. After a thrilling victory, the band raises their instruments to play the Alma Mater, which the low brass butchers horrendously, according to some band members. In addition to being chastised by Jahnke, the entire band is instructed to play the tune by memory the Monday after the weekend.

After the game, the band retreats back to the band hall to watch a video of their half-time performance. “We did pretty good,”Junior clarinet player Catherine Tiner said. After being dismissed, the band geeks struggle to bring their uniforms, backpacks and (occasionally multiple) instruments to their cars; often multiple trips are made. Many students go out after football games, but rarely does the marching band; the only thing they look forward to is sleep, and they’ll need plenty of it as they put in forty hours of work for the next football game in two weeks.