By Rick Palsgrove
Band camp lays the foundation for marching bands to sharpen their skills and learn to function smoothly as a unit.
For the 128 member Groveport Madison High School Marching Band, that meant time spent at pre-band camp at the high school from July 16-19 before leaving for camp July 22-27 at Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio.
“Going away to band camp is crucial for students as they get a week devoted to just bonding and working together with their band family without other distractions,” said Band Director Bart Pickenpaugh. “They are able to learn how to work together and make long lasting memories with friends through the common goal of making music. I asked last year’s senior class one of their favorite memories from band and almost every student said something about going away to band camp.”
The student musicians start mastering sets as well as learning marching fundamentals, musicianship and music memorization at band camp.
At this year’s shows, Pickenpaugh said the band will perform music selections from classical composer Johann Sebastian Bach.
“This is a modern twist on Bach’s music with the title of the show, ‘Outside the Bach’s.’”
Pickenpaugh selected the show because he says it best fits the band students and that the audience will enjoy listening to the music as well.
“Many people think classical music is boring, but when you take the music and put a modern twist with it, it’s enjoyable!” said Pickenpaugh. “We will also feature our senior band members at our last home football game and will have our 8th grade bands from all three middle schools perform with the band at one of the halftime shows.”
Being a musician requires a blend of intellectual, creative, and physical abilities. Marching band is physically and mentally demanding on students as the musicians must maintain perfect posture as they play their instruments while at the same time performing intricate marching patterns.
“Marching band is a very physical activity that takes a lot of concentration and focus to know how our body works so we don’t damage ourselves,” said Pickenpaugh. “It’s important that we don’t pull muscles or strain things, so we must warm up our bodies correctly and appropriately.”
Pickenpaugh said the awareness of how one’s body moves is important in marching band activity.
“Students need to be aware of how their body should stretch on each individual move,” said Pickenpaugh.
“It’s more physical than people realize,” said Field Commander Andre Norrils, a senior. “It’s athletic. People don’t understand how difficult it is to maintain perfect posture while playing and marching.”
Alana Jackson, a senior who plays the alto saxophone, said of the band, “We’re performers, competitors, and entertainers all blended together. Band is like a creative sport.”
Norrils said the band learns the music first and then the march patterns before combining the two for performance. He said at camp the band will learn shows to be performed at halftime of the varsity football games as well as at band contests this fall.
Norrils said marching band and concert band present their own challenges to the musicians.
“In concert band, the music is more complex and can have different time and key changes,” said Norrils. “But the advantage there is you have the music in front of you. In marching band we sometimes play more aggressively because we’re outdoors.”
Norrils enjoys being in the band and serving as field commander.
“I like music and it’s interesting learning about it,” said Norrils. “I enjoy being field commander because it is more hands on. I like motivating the band members. I’d like to be a band director some day. “
Jackson said she also enjoys playing in the band.
“The best part is the people,” she said. “There’s a certain energy present and we all get down with the music.”
Jackson was attracted to the alto saxophone when she was younger.
“I loved its sound since the first time I heard it,” said Jackson, who said smooth jazz is a favorite form of music for her.
“I like the entertaining improvisation of jazz,” she said. “I like that it is unstructured and creative.”