Band practice makes a perfect year

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By Tom Hanlon

The 2012-2013 school year is going to be a big one for the Los Alamos High School marching band. Starting the first week of August, the band practiced every day for two weeks, before school had even started. Aside from the band class during the school day, the group also practices from 6:30-8:30 p.m. two evenings during the week.
While a large portion of the band’s responsibility is to perform at football games, all of the practice contributes to its performance at marching band competitions, as well. Various pep bands will play at basketball games, while small jazz ensembles play at events around town.  
This year, the band will travel to two different competitions in October. The first takes place  Oct.13 in Los Lunas.  
Another big activity for the band is the spring break trip to Disneyland. Nate Hall, a senior who has played the alto saxophone for eight years and is one of two drum majors said, “We will not only go to Disneyland and the beach and have fun, but the band will record a fake sound track with the Disneyland musicians.”
The band relies on LAHS Band Booster Club parent volunteers to help with expenses, the performances and competitions and with this year’s trip fundraisers.  
Steve Cox, president of the band’s booster club said, “Approximately 75 students will go.  It is a fairly expensive trip, but with proper fundraising, there should be very little out-of-pocket (expense) for the students.”  
The cost will be roughly $800-$900 for each band member. The band has been fundraising throughout the summer at the Gordon’s Summer Concert Series, selling concessions. There will be other fundraisers, including the annual pie sale in October and November.
Fundraising is a big part of the booster activities to help support the $18,000 annual budget for the band program, but they are also responsible for arranging the transportation to the competitions and for lunch and dinner.  
Plus, the Booster Sideline Committee headed by Tom Courtney, transports the heavy equipment like the big drums and xylophones in trucks and trailers. They also move the equipment onto the field as the band marches onto the field and then move it off the field at the end of the performance.
Cox said this year the band has a really exciting show this year.
“We’re farther ahead this year compared to the past four years in terms of progress on learning the show and polishing it. They’ve introduced some new sideline music this year that will be exciting.”  
When it comes to the competitions, Booster Club Secretary Annette Sehorn explained that the performance must be precise. Every member must march in step together, while playing every note simultaneously.  
The drum majors and section leaders help make sure each band member knows exactly what to do to make the marching band performance a success.  
Senior and drum major Daniel Dahl said, “I play the clarinet and have for eight years, and I’m supposed to be the leader of the band and make sure everything goes right. I also organize activities at rehearsals and eventually will be conducting the music on the field.”
When asked what he likes most about band he said, “We’re all like family, a big bonded group. We all know each other really well and we all know how to make music work.”
Hannah Dye, a junior and a saxophone section leader agreed. “So many different people from so many parts of the school coming together and doing the same thing … If anyone is thinking about becoming part of the band they should definitely come and try it out.
“We have so many different playing levels and no one that starts out has marching experience, so you don’t have to worry about that.”
Freshman Isaac Dunwoody is new to the marching band. He has been playing the trumpet for five years.
For him, “entertaining the people and seeing their reaction when you play a good song” plus, “the whole aspect of this band being like a family” is why Dunwoody enjoys being part of the band.