by Joey Crandall, firstname.lastname@example.org
Drum major camps cover a lot of topics when it comes to commanding a high school band for the field of competition.
Technique and performance skills. Field management. Motivating and unifying your band. Problem solving.
Douglas High marching band drum major Bette Phillips, age 15, and assistant drum major Brandon Pierce never expected they’d begin putting those skills into real-life practice while they were still at camp in Santa Clara.
The rumor mill started swirling Friday night that – back in Gardnerville – longtime Douglas High band director Bill Zabelsky had left his position.
By Saturday, it had been confirmed that Zabelsky had resigned and by Sunday word was out that he had become the band director at Carson High School.
“We were in Santa Clara and started hearing some rumors, but we didn’t know exactly what was going on,” Phillips said. “When we found out officially, on Saturday, we started calling everyone from Santa Clara, trying to arrange an informal camp for this week. We were trying to get it cleared with the administration and things like that.
“The whole six-hour drive home on Sunday, we were on the phone. We got back into town at 7 p.m. Sunday and started coordinating on Facebook, trying to get everyone on the same page and stop more rumors from spreading around. (Douglas principal) Mr. (Marty) Swisher had contacted my house and said to come in and talk with him on Monday.”
Phillips and Pierce were at the high school at 9 a.m. Monday, the originally-scheduled start date, to turn anyone away who hadn’t yet been informed. Phillips met with Swisher, and then later with Swisher and a bigger group of students and teachers to hash out an informal schedule for the week.
“We got everything arranged, posted a schedule on the school’s Web site and on Facebook last night and got everyone up to speed,” Phillips said.
After a whirlwind weekend, nearly 70 people were at an informational meeting Tuesday morning. Following that, the drum majors and about 10 returning students facilitated marching drills for new members of the band to help the process of learning marching steps and commands.
“The returning members weren’t required to be here, but some came and helped,” Phillips said. “We had about 10 “teachers” and 10 others just around to help.”
“Everyone was excited to get going,” Phillips said. “They were really excited when I contacted them and explained the plan. The general feeling was that we can do this. We have to come together as a group, but we can do this.”
This year’s marching band is numbered at 75 members. New members will return for drill Wednesday from 8 a.m. to noon and a parent and booster meeting is set for Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in the Douglas High commons.
The full band will review marching steps and practice the school fight song and “Star Spangled Banner” starting Thursday at 8 a.m. and again on Friday at 8 a.m. The full schedule can be found at this link.
“It’s mostly games and activities to get people used to the marching and meet everyone else these first few days,” Phillips said. “We’re hoping to have lines on the practice field by the end of the week. We’re working on getting drill books put together and the music copied and organized.”
The band will be playing an Elvis Presley theme for this year’s field show.
Pau-Wa-Lu music director Tammy Owens will advise the high school band on an interim basis, but was unavailable for the start of this week.
“Our hope is to really start working on the actual field show on Monday,” Phillips said.