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Despite heat, area bands gear up for school year

The bright sun beats down as the band goes through its routine again and again.

But despite the heat, the humidity, and the occasional bug bite, the beat goes on as area high school marching bands start daylong practice sessions.

They all have one goal, be the best and make it to the state band competition. And as the old saying goes, there is only one way to get there — practice.

On Thursday afternoon, the South Point High School band was practicing its moves on the school’s asphalt parking lot.

“It is pretty hot, especially when we have to do push ups,” said Micah Lucas, who plays the mellophone. “But it’s fun when all get to play and hear it coming together and see everyone working together.”

The band started practice last week and Lucas said that having a new band director, Brent Hunt who just came from Green High School, has helped a lot.

“It’s really coming together,” she said. “Last year, we had people who weren’t as committed.”

Kayla Ariyan, who plays piccolo, is enjoying practice but wishes for cooler weather.

“It is a lot better this year,” she said. “It’s going to be a good year, I can feel it.”

Keylee Fletcher, who plays the snare drums, said she was enjoying practice so far this year.

“I’m confident that we will be good this year,” she said. “We have a color guard instructor this year and a woodwinds instructor and a guard instructor. Now, it is all coming together.”

Band Director Brent Hunt said his goal, is of course, to make the marching band winners, but also to make it fun.

“This year, I’m just hoping to make it fun and I want the kids to have pride in themselves,” he said. “I want them to make the community proud. I want this to be a way to show that arts are still important to the schools and the students.”

At Green High School, the band was marching without instruments on the front lawn of the Franklin Furnace school.

David Edwards, who replaced Hunt, is working with the kids on their routine and most of the band members are holding their music binders as if they were their instruments. Even though it is before noon, it is muggy and hot.

Edwards said they have to practice in August because they need the time to get ready before school starts again. Besides, he has to plan out their music and routines now since he was just hired.

“We are learning the music, learning the drills at the same time,” he said. “We are preparing while we still have large chunks of time. I keep telling them it will pay off so, so much when its time to perform at the football games.”

Kayla Jacoby, the band’s senior percussionist, said the percussion section’s big concern is that they have to run between their drums and a set of xylophones as part of their routine.

“That wears you out pretty quick,” she said.

For some students, its not the heat so much as getting used to getting out of bed.

Tern Tee said he thinks its fun and likes hanging out with his friends. However, practice starts at 8 a.m.

“I have to get up really early and I like to sleep in,” he said. “But we are going to nationals so we want to do good.”

Allison Slone said having her friends to hang out with makes it easier to get up for practice. And besides the band has a goal.

“We went to nationals a couple of years ago, so we want to improve on that,” she said.

Rock Hill High School’s band director Scott Jones said one of the biggest issues he faces every year is trying to get the band to readjust to mornings.

“It’s a little overwhelming for the first couple of days,” he said. “It’s like them have been thrown out of bed since they got used to sleeping in since school let out.”

Kaitlin Cox, the band’s field commander, said the change can seem abrupt.

“You go from total relaxation to strenuous activity,” she said. “But I love the experience, it’s quite awesome for a lack of a better term.”

Jones’ goal is the same as it is every year — qualify for state competition and play at the highest level of playing they can.

“That is mastering the drill, mastering the music,” he said. “Music isn’t on the proficiency test so competitions are how we judge their proficiency.”

As for the summer sun, the directors try to do work on the routines in the mornings before it gets hot and then practice inside the schools in the afternoons.

“We be out here more if it wasn’t so hot,” Hunt said.

The directors also take frequent breaks and make sure everyone drinks a lot of water.

As for band members, they are using the summer sun to their advantage.

Fletcher said she is working on her “carrier tan,” which is an outline of the rig for the drum.

“That’s my ultimate goal besides getting good scores in competition,” she said. “We try to get a good tan for the homecoming dance.”