LHS band, new directors ready to jam
At halftime of the Lansing High School season football opener Friday, the LHS marching band will ask spectators, Can you dig it?
Halftime shows this marching season will have a funk theme, band director Luke Johnson said. The band will play the theme from "Shaft," "Tell Me Something Good" and "Brick House."
Johnson said the audience probably would enjoy the show because people would recognize the songs.
"It will make you want to get up and dance," Johnson said.
Drum majors Guy Gardner, Samantha Mitchell and Kelsey Reed, all seniors, said the music wasn't especially hard to learn. But that doesn't mean band members have been slacking off - instead, the drum majors said, student section leaders had been practicing every morning through their own initiative to prepare for marching season, which begins Friday at the first football game of the season.
Johnson said he was excited by how eager the students are to practice.
"I've been really impressed with their willingness to work," he said.
Though the music hasn't been technically challenging for the band, the drum majors, who are the bandleaders during marching season, said band members hadn't yet captured the vibe of the music.
"I think the band is having a hard time finding the funk in the music," Gardner said.
"We need to find our groove," Reed added.
While the LHS band looks for its groove, it has also been adjusting to the loss of strong senior leadership and its band director. Last year's director, Deb Steiner, left after one year at LHS to take a job in Gardner.
However, Reed said band members had stepped up to fill the leadership roles, and all three drum majors agreed that the band was getting along well with its two new directors, Johnson and Becky Harris.
The change in directors hit some of the underclassmen a little harder than the seniors, Gardner said. Since the current seniors first joined the band in sixth grade, they have had six band directors. For younger band members, this is the third director change in three years.
Gardner said he preferred the new set-up of a director and an assistant.
"It was a lot easier (adjusting to two directors) than adjusting to one last year," he said. He explained that the two directors could consult with each other and draw on a deeper pool of knowledge than just one director.
Johnson said he also liked having a second director. With 94 students in marching band this year and 45 in freshman band, he said the size of the program should have dictated a second director several years ago. Last year, the marching band had 98 students.
Having a second director is instrumental for team teaching and classroom management, Johnson said. He pointed out that band directors are the only teachers who have classes as large as 50 to 100 students, and past directors had been expected to handle that many students alone. In band, Johnson said, students inevitably have problems with their instruments. With two directors, one can help individual students while the other continues teaching, he said.
Even with the changes in leadership, Johnson said he wanted the band to have "a productive and positive experience this year." The band will continue to march throughout football season and will perform at the Central States Marching Festival on Oct. 15 at Kansas State University.