The blistering sun drenched the 140 Victoria East High School students in sweat Tuesday morning as they learned about the most basic but essential part of marching band: the first step.
For about 50 freshmen, Tuesday was indeed their first step into the world of marching band during the first full day of summer band camp.
“Our band is on the younger side this year, so we are working on getting them to look like seasoned upperclassmen,” Director of Bands David Edge said. “There’s a lot of energy here, and it’s great.”
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The ensemble is preparing their 2019 marching band show, called “Celestial Odyssey.” The four-part music show will feature David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” and Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.”
While members of the band have practiced the music for the show before the first full day of summer practice, the group cannot start plotting drill for the show until Thursday, per UIL rules. The show also cannot be longer than eight minutes, said assistant band director Carlos Gonzalez.
“We will be spending countless hours until the end of October perfecting those eight minutes,” Gonzalez, 35, said.
One of the goals for the group this year is to compete at the state level in November at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The ensemble has reached the area contest in the past, Gonzalez said, but has yet to reach state finals.
To reach that level, the band staff and student leadership have made some changes. From the stretching routine to philosophy, the leadership hopes those tweaks will fine-tune the band this year.
Jenaya Deadrick, who is one of three drum majors, said student leaders have put a heavier focus on creating a family atmosphere this year, especially with such a large group of underclassmen.
“If you’re family, you connect better and you’ll work better together,” Jenaya, 17, said. “That’s what we’re hoping to achieve most of all.”
Senior Ashanti Bryant said she remembers two years ago when the band progressed to the area competition. Ashanti said she thinks a flaw was that band members were motivated too late in the game to compete against other top ensembles.
She said she hopes the changes will help maintain motivation. The marching show is also very interesting, Ashanti said.
“The music will work better with the crowd this year, and even that helps with band morale,” Ashanti, 17, said.
Freshman Ricardo Figueroa plays clarinet and said he has been waiting to be in the marching band since last year. The most challenging part for Ricardo so far is learning how to march backward.
He is excited to improve and learn more as the season progresses, he said.
“I’m a little worried that it’s a state year, but I think if we stay focused, we can make it this year,” Ricardo, 14, said.
Lyna Ong, the captain of the color guard, said the guard is also working toward the future. Most of the 28 guard members are freshmen and sophomores, Lyna said, and so the group is working on fundamentals.
“We want to teach the underclassmen to work hard and be nice and to take the show seriously now because there’s so much we could accomplish when all that works out,” Lyna, 17, said.