Band members focus on routines at camp
With the start of school, football games, parades and competitions just around the corner, the Basehor-Linwood Bobcat marching band has been getting a head start on this year's repertoire through summer band camp.
From 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. this week and 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. last week, the band and color guard have learned the music and drills for the "Colors" field show they will perform several times throughout the school year.
Each day is essentially the same with announcements, sectionals and outside and inside work.
"We hit everything at some point in the night," band director, Curtis Westbrook said. "But I switch it up so they don't get bored."
Several of the sections including the drumline, woodwinds and brass have not only a student section leader, but volunteer staff specialists as well. Westbrook said that is rare for a 4A high school.
"We're really fortunate that we know people who are willing to donate their time," he said.
Band camp started Saturday, July 29, with a visit and a leadership workshop from the Kansas State University band director, Frank Tracz. Drum major Caren Chellgren said Tracz taught section leaders the ins and outs of teaching rookie band members the ropes during band camp.
"He talked about leadership, how to teach the younger kids and keep them interested," she said. "He also taught us strategies for band camp to make it fun."
Chellgren also said that about 30 of the 80 band members are freshmen, making the first Monday of camp an important one. This day also is known as rookie day where veterans give first-timers what Westbrook calls "a crash course in high school marching band."
Apparently the crash course paid off because Chellgren said the freshmen picked up on music selections including, "Back in Black," "Sweet Georgia Brown," "Blue Skies," "Green Onions" and "Over the Rainbow." Westbrook said he received the "Colors" lineup from a friend at Central Missouri State University.
"I thought the kids would dig it, and the crowd would enjoy it," he said.
The rookie members of the color guard are also getting into the swing of things. The color guard, along with the drumline, start band camp each day at 1 p.m. to gain extra time to perfect their routines.
While the band broke up into sectionals Tuesday afternoon, the veteran color guard members, equipped with green flags, worked on choreography while the rookies practiced tosses and twirls with yellow flags. Color guard director Jane Vachal said that although band camp has been hot and challenging, the color guard is working hard.
"I'm looking forward to the season, as are they," she said. "They are ready to learn."
Westbrook said the band and color guard will have 10 to 15 performances this year including football games, the Tiblow Days Parade on Aug. 26 in Bonner Springs and three competitions including the Central States Marching Festival in Manhattan, Kan., Neewollah, Independence, Kan., and another competition to be announced.
However, their first performance of the school year will be at the conclusion of band camp at 7 p.m. this Friday, August 11, for the Marching Band Preview. The band booster club will host a barbeque while the band and color guard present what they have learned the past two weeks to parents and other guests.
Westbrook commended the booster club and the school administration, including the coaches for their tremendous amount of support. He said the booster club pays for everything that is not covered by school funds and the football coach has gone as far as to move his practice elsewhere to allow the band to use the field.
"That doesn't happen anywhere else," Westbrook said. "This is a special place."
While the band has a lot on its plate this year, Westbrook said they are ready for the challenge.
"They know they have to be committed," he said. "That is just part of the gig. This is a really strong group of young student leaders; probably the best I've seen."