A walk through band camp

ALHS Echoes visits band camp and what it takes to be in band

“Go Abe Lincoln Go! Fight Abe Lincoln Fight!” The marching band brings the energy and the tunes during all home football games. 

“I would consider us part of, what colleges would consider, a spirit squad. The mascot, the band, the dance team, and the cheerleaders. When the team is performing well we bring lots of energy, playing music. When the team isn’t performing, as well, we keep the spirits up,” said Band Director Taylor Matuszeski.

The many hours that go into learning the music and practicing staying together when marching. There is a lot that goes into the straight legs and familiar, uplifting tunes. All band students, including freshmen, work for a couple of weeks either learning all the fundamentals or getting a refresher for the year ahead.

“At the beginning of every year, we have a week-and-a-half to two-week band camp that starts in early August. The band students meet at AL at 8:00 and we do marching fundamentals from 8:00 am- 11:30-noon. All of the marching posture and the roll step, forward march, backward step, and blast step, which is a right and or left march. They go to lunch and after lunch, we work on the music from 12:30- 3:30. So it is a full school day but for band,” said Matuszeki.

Once school starts the sophomores, juniors, and seniors start practicing at 7:00 am-zero hour and go through first hour. They go through the marching, music, and choreography. Freshmen don’t start marching until their sophomore year. 

“The band prepares for a marching show with morning rehearsals, starting at 7 and going through first period, we work on music, marching fundamentals, and our show’s choreography,” said Lead Trombone player, Abe Colburn. 

With so much to do, the drum major helps a lot when it comes to the band. They even help conduct the band and lead the class if needed. 

“All of our leadership positions, drum major, we have three work crew members and two administration assistants. . . For the drum major, there is an audition process. They have to be able to perform all the marches as a good example. They have to be punctual, on time and have good leadership qualities. They have to be able to conduct in different time signatures. They, for the most part, have to be respected by the ensemble because they give a lot of directives almost like an assistant director,” said Matuszeski. 

For the audition, there are certain skills that need to be tested. Marching patterns, conducting patterns, marching commands, and at the end an interview with Matuszeki. This interview can help him assess whether or not you would be fit for the position. Questions like, “What would you do in this situation?” or “What qualities do you possess that would make you a good drum major?”

Senior Aubree Poppino has been the drum major for the past year, this year being her second. The drum major doesn’t march with the band instead she helps conduct the band shows and assists with anything the director needs.   

“I conduct the band during shows, lead the band in music rehearsals and warm-ups, and give advice on musicality and as a friend. If Mr. Matuszeski ever has to step out, I take over (and help the sub) and run rehearsals or whatever it is that is scheduled for that day. I had to do this for 6 days last year when he got COVID,” said Poppino.

It is also difficult playing and marching at the same time. Remembering every note, the pitch of that note, where to move, and a lot more. 

“Playing an instrument well is always difficult, it takes a lot of practice and experience, then when you have to start walking around on a football field, it definitely adds another layer of complexity. . . There’s a lot going on, but really getting the marching show down is all about repetition, you just have to do everything over and over till it becomes muscle memory,” said Colburn. 

A lot goes into marching. The hours spent practicing both music and marching styles. With forward step, backward step, blast step, making sure you roll your foot in the right way, your instrument is held and positioned correctly, and so much more. Much like the dance team and cheer team they help bring school spirit with the music they make. 

“We play happy, upbeat songs to celebrate our school and their success on the field. We also play the fight song before the game to hype up the audience and at pep rallies to welcome the incoming freshman and to celebrate the school,” said Poppino. 

Putting in their fun energy to each piece of music gets everyone else at ALHS hyped up. Always ready to shout, “Go Abe Lincoln Go! Fight Abe Lincoln Fight!”