Banding together at band camp

An hour before band camp began at La Cañada High School, a throng of freshmen and some returning band members tried on uniforms and stood on makeshift platforms to be fitted. As start time approached and more students filed into the band room, the explosive beats of a snare drum punctuated the excitement of friends reconnecting after the summer.

The school’s 10-day intensive band workshop took place from 1 to 8 p.m. every day this week and will continue at Cal Poly Pomona through the weekend and until Wednesday. It is a LCHS tradition that transpires two weeks before school reconvenes to bring incoming freshman into step with marching, and to promote bonding and friendship.

One of the goals for Music Director Jason Stone is to nail down the movement and music of the show’s opener in preparation for the band’s first performance at a Tommy’s Burgers cook-out for parents next Wednesday. The full field show will be ready for performance for football season in October.

“Our show is seven-and-a-half minutes of music and movement,” said Stone, “and if we don’t start two weeks before, the show never gets finished.”

A vital aspect to promoting cohesion as a performing musical entity involves integrating freshman members by teaching them marching and providing bonding activities to help sow new friendships.

“I haven’t marched yet,” said freshman Mathew Miller, who plays the alto saxophone. “So I’m really looking forward to the marching and learning the field show.”

Beginning with the first day, co-presidents Austin Hong and Tyler Steele organized the band into cluster groups and created an agenda of trust games and bonding exercises beginning with a name-game ice-breaker. As the week progressed, the groups participated in human knots and light-hearted competitions against other groups to further cement the team relationship.

“We had a meeting the other day where we were talking about ways we thought we could further the bonding experience,” said Steele. “We figured competition could do that.”

The challenges of band camp, according to Brian Mellstrom, this year’s drum major, is developing a main group that could work together successfully and be hardworking. Mellstrom said he looks forward to this year’s group being able to rise to the challenge of success at the competitions.

“I know [we will succeed] because we have a great leadership team this year,” said Mellstrom, “with Tyler and Austin and all the section leaders that are out there, that will help teach the new incoming freshman and help refine the skills of all the other members of the band.”

As the band room grew loud with the din of brass instruments being moved and drums exploding like fireworks over the buzz of back-to-school catching up, Stone looked over sheet music for the field show.

“There’s something that I like in putting on a show that has so many moving parts,” Stone said. “When it finally clicks, it’s amazing.”

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