Students Take the Field for Wantagh’s 3rd Annual Marching Band Camp

Jennifer Rosen, News Editor

On Thursday, October 7th, band and dance students took to the football field for a day of marching practice in preparation for Wantagh’s big Homecoming game on Saturday, October 16th. Although Newsday’s annual Marching Band Festival was cancelled due to COVID restrictions, students were still excited to have the opportunity to perform for the Wantagh community. 

Band Camp is the first opportunity where band students across grade levels come together. With everyone working toward a common goal performing a beautiful show, there is a unifying sense of spirit. Senior Drum Major Hannah McCormick said, “Band Camp is the perfect blend between friendship and hard work. Upperclassmen are able to show themselves as mentors to the underclassmen, helping to guide them through this new experience.”

This year’s show is based on the works of Bruno Mars. Students were instructed by Co-Band Directors Danilo Aviles and Christopher Cockren to memorize the songs “24K Magic,” “Treasure, and “Uptown Funk”.  Aviles said, “Our first two games were very successful and met the goals required according to their timeline. The band only had two weeks to prepare for Game #1 and about 2 weeks after that, they had to learn both a challenging second song and the first field show formations.” 

Going into practice, students were familiar with “24K Magic” and “Treasure” as they had performed them at prior games; however, “Uptown Funk” had not yet been practiced with all three groups. Aviles said, “This is why our annual Band Camp is crucial. That is the only chance we get at putting the four elements of Concert Band, Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, and Dance Team together on the field to learn our third piece of music and field formations. It’s like building a modular home and hoping all of the pieces actually fit together.”

In preparation for field show practice, the day started off with lessons on marching basics and technique work. As students lined up across the football field, Aviles, Cockren, and the Drum Majors instructed students on techniques in arriving at the next yard line in the proper amount of steps. 

After a well-rested break, Concert Band was escorted to the back field to get one-on-one instruction from Cockren on parade work and posture formation. Meanwhile, the Symphonic and Wind Ensemble took on the field show. For the next four to six hours, students worked tirelessly to perfect the drill set, and along the way, were able to make unique bonds with each other. During breaks, many underclassmen had the opportunity to stand on the Drum Major podium (better known as Jarvis) and call the band to attention and conduct in various four patterns. It was the enthusiastic kind of “eternal Wantagh family” energy the Wantagh Band prides itself on providing students.

Of course, a halftime show is not complete without the work of Wantagh’s Varsity Dance Team and Color Guard. Starting practice as early as August, these committed members came into marching season ready to take on any task or obstacle that came their way. Co-Dance Captain Mia Kurtzman described how, “Going into band camp, our objective was to teach our new members how to march and to learn the moves for the field show…Performing for crowds is one of my favorite things to do as it is great being able to show off what our team is capable of.”

For all of Wantagh’s Marching Band leaders, there is no feeling that beats performing for the audience. McCormick said, “Hearing the crowd cheer for the band makes me want to cheer with them because I’m so proud of the dedication we put into this program.”