The Oakdale High School marching band trains for precision – in the music and the moves.
In military-like style, band members practiced the precision in their steps during the recent OHS band camp leading up to the start of school.
“Eight to Fives” are eight steps to every five yards, a certain number of inches for each stride and the standard for marching bands, according to Ross McGinnis, the music director for the Oakdale Joint Unified School District.
Learning drills and commands, getting fitted for uniforms, practicing music – these were all part of the routine in the days of school band camp in the days just before the start of school for OHS marching band members.
Keeping the lines straight, on the horizontal and the diagonal, rolling their steps so as not to trip on the field surface, doing it all to a certain tempo, keeping the moves sharp, and playing the right notes on their instruments is a lot to coordinate.
“They’re getting a handle on music for the first game, rallies, and elementary recruiting trips,” McGinnis said.
He added that the marching band is working on traditional marching band music, as well as popular songs like Dynamite, Gangnam Style, classic rock and sports anthems to play during football games.
New OHS marching band student Kaiden Waterman, who plays the French horn in concert band and the mellophone in marching band, said that they’ve learned marching calls, which are commands, marching drills without instruments, and practiced the music planned for the games. He said the camp was a fun experience.
There was also a “Drill Down” competition amongst the camp participants, which was a process of elimination in obeying military marching commands to a certain tempo. The winner, sophomore clarinet player Autumn Taber, won a sandwich shop gift card. Outstanding band participants at the camp were Kaiden Waterman and Stephanie Ortiz, and the outstanding colorguard participant was Lora Henry.
There are 25 new marching band students for total of 57 students in the OHS marching band.
“We have a young band,” McGinnis said, adding that five seniors graduated last year and they lost another six or seven students due to academic scheduling conflicts this year.
McGinnis said that there’s a lot more to getting ready for the marching band season than just getting the music and drills right.
“Uniforms, shoes, general physical fitness, self-awareness, making sure the instruments work, making sure there are enough drumsticks, making sure instrument repairs are done and that there’s enough room in the class for the people and the equipment,” McGinnis said as some of the other important aspects to prepare for the season. “There are lots of legal and volunteer forms, e-mail lists and phone lists to keep in constant contact with ever-changing schedules, fundraising...”
The OHS marching band participates in two parades, one away game at Sonora, and home football games. There are six football games on the schedule this year and the band also plans to play at every OHS playoff game. McGinnis noted that there are usually two to three events each fall that come up “out of the blue” that they want to participate in and so they need to be ready for the unexpected. He said it’s better to prepare now than at the eleventh hour.
“All of our competitions are the day after football games,” he reported. “We train twice as hard in those scenarios.”
Since games are on Friday nights and competitions start early on Saturday mornings, they have to be sharp and be in shape. The first game the marching band will play is Friday, Sept. 6 where OHS faces off at home against Enterprise High School of Redding.
McGinnis said that the camp is a training element but there’s a positive social element to it as well. For freshmen and other students who are new to the school, they get the camaraderie of other students before school starts because they spend a total of about 24 hours together over the course of the camp.
OHS colorguard coach Tammy Kumanchik said that there are eight colorguard members who participate with the OHS marching band. Six of them are OHS students and two are Oakdale Junior High School students. The OJHS students will be involved in the game performances but not competitions.
McGinnis reported that there are 85 total students in instrumental classes at OHS, which include jazz band, marching and drumline. There are about 15 students who are enrolled in two or all three instrumental music classes.