Archive for Thursday, August 12, 2004

Students at school early for band camp

August 12, 2004

Baldwin students don't officially start school until next week. But don't try telling that to the high school band members. They've already been at school for nearly a week.

More than half of the Baldwin High School band members have spent their last full week of summer vacation in band camp, donating several hours a day to rehearsal.

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"We have so many things to do," band director Will Cooper said.

The band camp isn't mandatory, but Cooper said he strongly encourages his students to attend.

"Musically, it gives us a huge head start," he said.

About 60 percent of his band attended this week's camp, which, he said, is a good number when students have to work around jobs, vacations and other activities.

Cooper, his Emporia State student teacher, Jacob Stice, and the band have been practicing approximately 10 to 15 pieces that will be performed this fall during football games, competitions and trips.

Though the band will be marching to several of the pieces, Cooper said the students have not been spending the week learning their formations. Instead, the six hours of practice a day have been spent learning the music.

"We have to concentrate on getting this music learned and memorized before we start marching," he said. "It takes a lot to get them memorized."

The camp, he said, is divided between full ensemble and sectional rehearsals. Not only do band members work on the memorization of the pieces, but the musicality of them as well.

"There's the technical part of it, and then there's the actual sound of it as well," he said. "There's always something you can bring out."

Though he doesn't have a full band for this week's rehearsals, Cooper said the band members will be much more prepared for the first few weeks of school when marching begins, and be able to help those who weren't able to attend camp.

"I think they're going to be a lot more comfortable, and be able to pick it up a little faster," he said.

Sarah Barkley, a senior band member, said the extra rehearsals will make the start of the school year less stressful and help better prepare the band for its performances in the fall.

"It allows us to get a head start on the music," she said. "If we learn it now, then we can learn our marching fundamentals and get our formations down.

"By practicing now, we don't have to worry about learning things later. We can just work on making them better."

When school starts next week, Cooper said he expects to have 70 band members and around 10 or 12 on the pom squad.

Not only will the band perform during football games, but it is also preparing for a trip to compete in the Kansas State Fair in September, as well as a trip to Orlando, Fla., in November.

But the high school band will have a chance to show off its week of work today when it performs a few pieces at the Vinland Fair at about 6:15 p.m.

Cooper said he appreciates the hard work his students have done before school has even started.

"I think it shows a lot of dedication," he said. "It's a lot of time commitment on the kids' part. I think it shows they really love what they do."

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