“Band, Ten-hut!” “Pride!”
Every student stands still with feet at a ninety-degree angle, shoulders back, instruments in front, and chins up. They focus on a point on the top of the high school and hold their attention there. This is the Pride of Portage Marching Band. Comprised of almost one hundred students this season, they are aggressively seeking excellence and helping one another achieve it.
This season began with a leadership camp for 12 section leaders and 2 equipment managers. The focus was not only to show them how to lead their sections in a positive way but also how to team build and bring the band together.
Armed with ideas and practice, the leaders joined the rookies, or first year members, for two days of rookie camp. The rookies learned how the schedule works, what is expected of them, and the basics of marching technique. At the conclusion of rookie camp, the veteran members came back for one and a half weeks of camp together.
With a positive structure and well-equipped leaders, the band camp began a great season. The band camp followed a strict schedule consisting of stretching, conditioning, basics, drill learning, music instruction, and coordination. The students embraced the hard work and long hours, working from 8:30 in the morning to 5:30 in the evening with an hour break for lunch.
The long days and new techniques surprised some of the rookies. One rookie, Makenzie Marx, commented that while it was harder than she expected, she enjoyed the challenge of perfecting something new. Marching band is very different from concert band. In the concert bands, students focus on breathing correctly, aligning their notes, blending together with the ensemble, and bringing the music alive to the listener.
Marching band does everything previously mentioned but while on the move. Students memorize the music as well as where their spot in the show travels and when. The show is written specifically for the students who have signed up.
Each student has a specific spot to march, which creates bigger shapes and forms on the field. Therefore, anytime a student is missing, the show does not look the same and the forms are incomplete. There is no secondary person who can fill that spot.
This season’s show has about 35 forms in the opening music alone. There are three parts to the show and will most likely have more than eighty forms by the end. The 2013 season, "The Fire Within," brings the audience through a musical story of good versus evil. The color guard, a section of the band using equipment such as flags, sabers, and prop rifles, creates the atmosphere and feel of the performance by providing the visuals for the music.
With the opener on the field and the second production in the works, the marching band is looking forward to three home game performances as well as five judged contests. The judges rate the band based off of individual and overall music, individual and overall visual (marching technique and forms), general effect, and more.
While students have joined for reasons varying from friends to wanting to be in the drumline, they all stay for the same reason – to be part of the team and strive towards excellence.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion.