Do Band Kids Practice Too Much??
Are band kids practicing too much? Now THERE’S a question you never hear.
Probably because we´re never recognized in school announcements-
THAT’S A TOPIC FOR ANOTHER DAY!
-New Face to the EU-
The Cal High Entertainment Unit has long since stood and for a great deal of time, was directed by the man who needs no introduction among its members: Mr. Nordquist.
Retired at the end of the 2019-2020 school year, the former Olympian served twenty three years as the EU´s director.
In the wake of his retirement, it was wondered who his successor would be and no mistake was made with the hiring of Mr. Hernandez, the EU´s new director.
Being the young teacher´s ¨official first year¨, it’s no doubt he wanted to kick off this new school year with high hopes for his band and tons of ambition for the marching season.
“There is something special about this season’s iteration of the Entertainment Unit,¨ stated Mr. Hernandez at the beginning of the band´s season, ¨and I can’t wait to see how far they will go!”
-Where it Started and Ended-
Temperature´s reaching the hottest ever recorded in California, the EU kicked off their season in the grueling heat of Band Camp! Yay!
New faces joining the band, Mr. Hernandez wasted no time getting us into performance mode.
From my perspective, Band Camp was intense, to say the least. Especially as one of the new faces but I think even the oldest members can agree with me.
It was hot, we were out on a pretty bad field to practice, it was hard getting back into the swing of things, and practices were seven hours long. Not including summer sectionals.
The work was a lot but I think we handled it pretty well going into the school year. With our official ¨Hell Week¨ out of the way, a couple of months of practice remained relatively well paced.
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and a Saturday practice once every two weeks was the schedule for us. Almost three hour practices for the weekday. It was accommodating for the most part, in my opinion, and something I was able to keep up with.
However, Mr. Hernandez had more drive than any of us would have expected.
Things began to escalate, starting with Saturday practices. They became EVERY Saturday instead of the previous arrangement. Oh, and they were also seven hours long; four if necessary. Occasionally in the stadium, (yet another frustrating topic for another time) the heat was unyielding and the hours were exhausting.
Those practices eventually melded into more hardcore ones as our competitions began approaching. They paid off though since we received a score of 80.650 out of 100 at the WUHSD Field Tournament held at Cal.
We got a great score on our first competition so there’s no need to intensify things now, right?
Gahr Invitational: 85.325
Once Semis began approaching, especially Finals, practices increased to everyday of the week other than Friday´s. This included Saturday rehearsals before and on competition days as well.
We concluded the season with a Finals score of 80.650.
Let’s just say we never would have made it out alive if it weren’t for our Booster Moms organizing our meals.
-What an Average Week/Weekend Practice Was-
I know, it sounds like I´m describing the fiery pits of the underworld.
¨You have to be exaggerating!¨ you might be saying.
Well, let’s take a look at an average practice during the week.
It’s 3:45, we have all our equipment out on the field, ready for physical warm-ups. Soon after, instrument warm-up begins. Sometimes it was followed by music comb throughs. Then, it´s followed by setting up the band field to practice our marching formations. Set to set, drill by drill, some over and over again. Water breaks were given frequently for the most part but not a long chance to rest. Two run throughs concluded almost three hours of practice. We ended at six thirty.
What were these seven hours of Saturday practices filled with? The same thing but longer, hotter, sometimes in the stadium and occasionally with spaghetti.
What were they like on competition days that had us back at Cal at eleven at night? The exact same thing, with a break in between to eat and get changed before we load up busses and take off to comp.
Now, let’s imagine the hours of physical work put in before a competition JUST on that day. Let’s imagine standing, standing, and standing as well as holding instruments up for a long period of time. What was the heat like? What was it like keeping up with other responsibilities?
Siri, define the meaning of ¨Sport¨-
-Band Student´s Thoughts-
The experience is different for everyone in the EU though, especially among the grade levels.
QUESTION: Do you think the amount of practices we had was necessary? What were they like compared to Nordquist?
¨I felt that the amount of practices we had was a little too much at times,¨ confesses a clarinet playing senior. ¨Compared to Hernandez, [about Nordquist] we only had practice on Tuesday and Thursday and we would practice in the night time in the stadium.¨
The two men aren’t the same so it was to be expected that things would be different but this is a drastic change in rehearsal schedules. Not only was the change something to get used to but the feeling of getting out of quarantine made it even more foreign for returning members.
¨I thought that this marching season was really great but also disorganized. Coming into the season during covid made it hard for some people, but I had a lot of fun with my section and friends.¨
QUESTION: What was your motivation like throughout the season?
In time consuming and exhausting activities, motivation might be hard to come by or retain. The season was long, and it’s no surprise if motivation wavered in us musicians.
¨The one thing Hernandez said was that if he could give us that feeling of greatness, and be able to show all the hard work we have done to get to that point [Finals], then the scores don’t matter, and when we finished our final show I believe I had that feeling so in my opinion our season went good and I definitely enjoyed it,¨ says a sophomore.
Mr. Hernandez is no stranger to motivational speeches and clearly, they get through sometimes. Soooo maybe the occasional cheesy motivational quip or two does do something.
¨I constantly used the fact that I wanted to be a great marching musician and want to be the best I can be by my senior year,¨ explains the trumpet player.
QUESTION: How physically and mentally tired were you during and after the season? Why?
Ahhh, juniors. The ones not quite out of the tunnel yet but thoroughly done with it. Who better to ask this question to than one bass clarinet playing eleventh grader?
¨There were times I was super physically exhausted, mostly in the last month of marching season, because of how much back-to-back practice we had.¨
Motivation to work your hardest, especially in programs like this, will definitely come with consequences. Fatigue from other responsibilities and physical exertion was commonly met by many EU members this season – even myself.
¨Mentally it wasn’t that difficult because I already had experienced this before and knew what to expect. Buuuut it was still mentally challenging in terms of getting back into things,¨ the musician adds.¨
QUESTION: Was the amount of intense work we put in worth it?
¨I pushed myself, met new friends and had a lot of fun going to competitions and hanging out with them. I made memories and was able to experience something I had never done,¨ declares a freshman trumpet player. ¨Yes, the amount of intense work was worth it and in my opinion, I wish it was a little more intense.¨
For some members, it’s clear they have a lot more to give!
¨I think we have a good chance of making it even farther next year in competition if we give a little more work,¨ the brass player says. ¨The more we push the better the results will be! ¨
Bet you didn’t think Marching Band was this much, huh?
It might seem a little ridiculous but it truly is something that requires plenty of drive and skill. And yes, it might even seem a little crazy. Heck, when I see all those hours we practiced for months, I think we’re crazy!
It’s funny though, how these practices tightened bonds and formed camaraderie within our band. In those short two minute water breaks or lunches during Saturday rehearsals, I got closer with my section and with the band as a whole than I ever could have thought.
How´d the season go you might ask me? ¨It was good!¨
I´ve gained friends and siblings, I realize now that it’s over. It makes all the complaining, and the heat, and the hours worth it. It makes it all worth it, above everything else.
So, do band kids practice too much? Well I´d say-
Actually, I´ll let you all decide that.