On Tuesday afternoon, Ken Carter, music director at Nevada Union, hollered instructions to the high school marching band assembled in the lower football field at NU. The team was practicing music from the Broadway musical “Wicked” for the new season.
Despite having to play the same music repeatedly, the students seemed to enjoy the practice. It made you wonder if it’s the camaraderie that’s made the NU band successful in recent competitions throughout California and Nevada.
The band has won competitions in Reno on Oct. 7 and in Fairfield on Oct. 14. They have six more performances set for this month and the next, including marching down Main Street U.S.A at Disneyland.
Carter attributes the band’s success to his student’s hard work.
“I think the students take great pride in what they do,” he said. “While performing, they give 110 percent.”
Amy Linden, color guard coach for the band, said the band members typically practice about 15 hours each week. While sections of the band practice on different days, all 60 students in the team practice together on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“You have to be willing to work hard because you work long hours in the worst weather,” Linden said. “We start the band camp in August when it is over a 100 degrees outside, and we finish in December when it’s freezing cold.”
Band members must already know how to play a musical instrument and must know how to dance if they are in the color guard.
So what is it that keeps students hooked?
“For me, the best part is getting the chance to play different kinds of music,” said Beau Blandford, 16, one of the band’s trombone players. “The music that we play in marching bands is different. We do a lot of Broadway music. For a regular concert band, you wouldn’t do that.”
Blandford was with the rest of the band when they performed in a parade in Cornwall, England, this summer.
“It was a lot different because the crowd didn’t have a restriction on where they could go,” Blandford recalled. “The way we performed wasn’t quite as serious. It was more for fun.”
The rapport between the students is what makes the team click, said Shaunda Sawyer, 16, drum major for the band.
“We just become one family during the season,” she said. “We work hard but we also play hard. We have a good balance. At the end of the season, when you see this amazing show that you helped to make, it is very rewarding.”
For Lynn Skrukrud, 17, captain of the color guard, being in the band has taught her “commitment and life skills, in general.”
“You get to see the finished product of what you put your time into,” Skrukrud said. “It is amazing how your hours of work will create something as cool as this.”
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See them march
Dates and venues of the Nevada Union High School marching band’s upcoming performances are:
• October 27: Halftime show at the Nevada Union High School football game.
• October 28: Reno/Tahoe Regional Marching Band Competition in Sparks, Nev.
• November 4: Grape Bowl Classic in Lodi.
• November 11: Central California Band Review in Madera.
• November 12: Performance in Disneyland, leading the parade down Main Street U.S.A.
• November 18: Tournament of Champions in Fairfield.
Source: Amy Linden, Nevada Union High School Color Guard Coach/Advisor
List of recent achievements
Recent awards won by Nevada Union High School’s marching band:
McQueen High School on Oct. 7 in Reno:
• 1st Place band, Class A
• Outstanding woodwinds, Class A
• Outstanding color guard, Class A
Armijo High School on Oct. 14 in Fairfield:
• 3rd place band, Class A
• 3rd place color guard, Class A
• 2nd place percussion, Class A
• 4th place drum major, overall
Source: Ken Carter, music director at Nevada Union High School.
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