Summer Band – Waking up early is fun!

While most children are still playing video games and waking up late every morning, band parents know their children are waking up early in August for Summer Band! I remember summer band marching technique training in the HOT Texas heat, drill downs, and impatiently waiting for the drum majors to yell, “AT EASE!” as sweat dripped down my nose. It is hard work, but it builds discipline and responsibility.

Summer band also remedies the affliction referred to by most teachers as “summer chops”. If your musician did NOT practice throughout the summer, he/she will have “summer chops” going into summer band. They will need to rebuild their endurance to play their instruments for a long period of time.

Practicing just 20-30 minutes a day or every other day will help your child avoid “summer chops.” Make your kids play long tones. They know what it means. Play one long note for an entire breath. Time it. Good. Again. It is important for them to keep playing so they can start the new season as a leader.

Next comes the marching technique. There are so many details that go into creating a uniform look when a band steps off that it is essential they all learn how to march the same way. From heel-roll to horn carriage, there is a glossary of terms for the students to learn and probably 10 different ways to execute even just a few of them. The students need to learn how to keep a straight line while marching together or how to float a shape or how to perform visually captivating designs that will generate applause from any audience.

So much work is required for marching band productions, the extra time provided at summer band helps jump-start the year. Two local high school marching bands reached the Grand National level in the 2016-17 school year. We are proud of the students, directors, and parents who supported and put so much effort into their programs. What begins as Summer Band culminates into a 10-minute production of music, dancing, pageantry, and drill design that will mesmerize every audience. Remember, the game is only the opening act for the half-time show!

Band students with a desire for a career in music probably enjoy summer band the most, but I say every band member has a summer band memory or two. I know I enjoyed it very much. How do your students feel about their band experience? If you’re a band parent reading this, if you were in band, how much did YOU enjoy summer band?

I probably enjoyed the Drill Downs the most, and playing stand tunes during the air-conditioned inside rehearsals. My high school band director loved The Doors, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, and Led Zeppelin so some of their music was common at Mercedes Tigers football games.

A Drill Down is when the director and drum majors have the entire band in a block. To test them, they are given a series of vocal commands and those who mess up even in the slightest are eliminated. Prizes range from getting to drink water first to being able to put your instrument away at the end of the day. When you work hard all day, that prize means the world!

The last day of summer band is bittersweet for most students. After two weeks (or more) preparing for the school year, you have created some of the greatest group memories you will remember for a good part of your life, and now you have to start school. The sweet part is the upcoming competition season to perfect the show so you can get the best rating possible and move on to Area and State Contests.

This coming year, two of our local bands will be working particularly hard as Churchill HS is scheduled to attend the Bands of America Grand Nationals in Indianapolis, and Reagan HS will be sending their band to the Tournament of Roses in Pasadena, CA.

We wish all of our local band programs the best of luck in the coming season. If you have any pictures or comments you would like to share about your band programs, we would love to see them!