Lowell — Junior flutist Josie Hackett loves Lowell High School Marching Band so much that she put a picture of the director on her T-shirt and wore it to band camp.
“I was like, ‘I need to put Timothy Haan on my T-shirt.’ So, I stalked him on Facebook and snatched the picture and put ‘Timothy Haan’s #1 fan’ on it,” she said, while sporting the shirt decorated with green dye and the digital image.
The sentiment was sincere: “Absolutely, I am (his No. 1 fan).”
Josie’s best friend and piccoloist Mya Richmond claimed even more intense fandom for the longtime band director. “I’m Mr. Haan’s No. 0.5 fan. I’m more of a fan than Josie.”
‘It’s an almost indescribable experience to see them come in and learn so much in one week as things come together. The growth they show over the course of the season is one of the most rewarding things, seeing and hearing it.’— LHS Marching Band Director Timothy Haan
Complete with silliness, spirit, strong bonds (like Josie and Mya have with Haan) and lots of rigor, bootcamp-style band camps kicked off the marching band season this month at high schools all over the country. The time-honored tradition is when young musicians, up at sunrise, lug their instruments onto parking lots, fields and band rooms to prepare for three to four months of entertaining a halftime crowd of football fans with everything from opera to pop and Broadway numbers.
So what went into band camp this year at Lowell High School? How did more than 50 students prepare for the eight- to 10-minute, four-song halftime show, which includes the numbers “Phantom of the Opera”, “Wish You Were Somehow Here Again”; “Masquerade” and “Music of the Night”? How do they channel their energy into a high-level performance with flair and precision that gets better and better over the season?
“This week is one of the highlights of the year,” said Haan, who is starting his 21st year as director. “It’s an almost indescribable experience to see them come in and learn so much in one week as things come together. The growth they show over the course of the season is one of the most rewarding things, seeing and hearing it.”
Steps, Beats & Drills
The small, close-knit team spent 36 hours – eight hours Monday through Thursday and four on Friday – in the high school parking lot learning music from “Phantom of the Opera,” this year’s theme. Under the summer sun they learned formations and steps, rehearsed the fight song, national anthem and, again and again, the halftime songs. It was a condensed portion of the many hours spent together each fall. The week before band camp students also had evening rehearsals, and this marching band begins as a semester class.
‘After all the hard work you put into it, it’s kind of a relief when you go out on the football field and everyone is cheering for you.’— Freshman drummer Gavin Simmet
“Marching band is unlike any other group,” Haan said. “(Middle School Band Director Kate Bredwell) and I preach that marching band is like a family, because it is. That includes all the good stuff, and the warts, that come along with being in close quarters.”
Bredwell said that level of camaraderie leads to older students helping younger students and section leaders stepping up to help. Making sure everyone is on the correct foot on beat one is a challenge in itself. “It takes a lot of coordination. That’s kind of the tricky thing.”
Students amp up the week with style — wearing crazy socks, spirit wear, fun hats and accessories. One student’s shirt said, “Let the Shenanigans Begin.” Another wore a colorful Skittles hat and striped socks.
“It is a fun time of year,” Josie said. “Everybody is excited to be here. Well, not on the first day because it’s too early to be up, but as the week goes on everybody enjoys being around each other and tries their hardest to do all the sets that we are given. It’s a really fun atmosphere. On the hotter days it’s difficult to keep yourself together marching out there, but in the end it’s all worth it.”
They also prepare for the festivities leading up to the games. “I’m a huge fan of pre-game. I love pre-game,” Mya said, describing how the band marches onto the field, assembles into an “L” for Lowell and then transforms into a human tunnel for the football players to run through.
Freshman Gavin Simmet said carrying his snare drum around all day is hard on the back and shoulders, but he’s looking forward to performing, which he got a taste of as an eighth-grader when the younger students joined the high school band for a game.
“After all the hard work you put into it, it’s kind of a relief when you go out on the football field and everyone is cheering for you.”
Bredwell’s child, senior Kai Bredwell, a mellophone player, agreed that it’s all worth it. “Band camp is like, it sucks but I love it. You have all this heat, but you have your friends. It’s my last one, so it’s extra special.”
Bonds Through Band
Kai and Bredwell bonded over the fact that Bredwell’s first marching band production in high school was “Phantom of the Opera.”
“She spent a lot of time last night showing me old marching band videos from when she was in high school,” Kai said.
Bredwell reminisced about that fall of 1989 when she was a young band member. “It’s such a classic musical. It was new when I first marched and it stood the test of time with popularity. … It’s kind of a neat full circle.”
Drum major and senior Caden Dennie ended the week feeling good about the arrangements and how things were sounding. He hopes to march in college and pursue a career in professional orchestra.
“It can be intense, but that’s a part of it. That’s what leads to it being fun. When you finally get done with everything, when you get everything down, all the movements and music, it’s really rewarding to see how far you’ve come since you started.”
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