While many students are collecting pens and pencils to prepare for the upcoming school year, others are gathering their tubas and trumpets. Flutes flutter and bass drums boom as the Neuqua Valley “Marching Wildcats” fill their auditorium for rehearsal. At the end of summer, the band tries to perfect each note before they even step foot on the football field.
“The music, the way it sounds inside – that’s they way we want it to sound outside,” said Band Director Jonathan Lauff. “Obviously it’s more difficult when you’re moving and going all sorts of directions, things like that.”
When they weren’t practicing, the group watched videos of other marching bands to study their movements before going outside to try formations themselves.
While the musicians hope their lessons help them entertain fans at football games in the long run, they say there’s so much more to be gained from being in the band.
“You really learn more than just how to march or play your instrument better,” said senior Ericha Heggeland. “You build relationships and you learn more about responsibility and leadership and grow to know the members in the band.”
“There are so many trials and tribulations that you go through with this group,” said Aaron Gatdula, a junior. “Once you find that this hard work pays off in front of an audience, it’s just a lot of pride that you feel.
Neuqua’s marching band will perform for the first time at the school’s scrimmage football game on August 17th
Meanwhile over at Naperville Central, the “Marching Redhawks” begin each practice outside with no instruments at all.
“We start with stretching and then we work on marching fundamentals, taking individual steps and getting them in sync and then practice other techniques, marching backwards, marching with our body orientation at different direction, that storta thing,” said Elise Robinson, Senior Drum Major at Naperville Central.
From there, they’ll spend the rest of the afternoon and evening playing their instruments and then put their music and movements all together.
“It is tiring at first but you get used to it [and] it helps build up your stamina and endurance after awhile,” said Alex Heigl, Central’s Junior Drum Major. “Being out here, everyone has fun, rehearsals are pretty loose. You find ways to have fun.
Band director DJ Alstadt says the students’ hard work and determination despite 12 hours of practice in the heat will benefit the group in the long run, both in performing and in life.
“I think marching band helps build character and ultimately we’re giving back to our community,” he said. “So I’m really proud of our kids.”
The Marching Redhawks will take the field, instruments in hand and in full uniform for Naperville Central’s first home game on September 14th.
You can also catch both marching bands at the Labor Day parade on September 3rd.
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