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NFM High’s marching band readies for new school year

August 13, 2014
By CHUCK?BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

The athletes aren't the only ones coming to school early to get ready for the season.

The North Fort Myers marching band is also going through its own training camp, and for them, it's a commitment equal to a full-time job.

The more than 150 members of the band and color guard have worked from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day at their annual band camp so they can be ready for football games and competitions.

Article Photos

Elizabeth Elliott, staff member, has a keen eye on the band from atop a scaffold during band camp at North Fort Myers High School on Aug. 5.


And for people who have this preconceived notion of band members not being physically fit, you would be surprised.

"It's when we get all the new and old members together to learn the show, and this year we have two shows, so we're working on the show for the football games," said Kaylee Bement, a senior drum major. "It takes a lot of physical work before you add the instruments."

Yes, they have spent some time inside working on their music, as it has been raining a lot. But most of it is spent outside, on the pavement, in the hot sun, learning their steps and visualizing what they have to do and when.

The band heard the syncopated beat played through a megaphone. The members hummed the music (a Daft Punk medley) and did their marching lines.

Elizabeth Elliott, a staff member, stood on a scaffold to give the band direction and encourage them to do better through a microphone.

"Think about what you can do a little better," Elliott said.

The band got frequent water breaks, as the pavement adds 10 degrees to the already hot conditions.

That means being in shape. The band members have to do conditioning and stretching before practice, and once they start carrying their instruments (like a tuba), the need for conditioning becomes more important, Bement said.

On Friday, the routine needed to come together for a show they would put on for parents, and even that would be considered a rough draft.

"That's nowhere near the attention of detail that we need for the actual show," Bement said.

That's up to new band director Sara Johnson, who came here from Virginia when she heard about the school and its devotion to the arts.

"There are so few arts-focused high schools. This is not like other schools where the band is not a primary focus. Here, the fine arts are a huge focus. Any band director would be lucky to get this kind of job," Johnson said.

Johnson said mornings have been spent doing marching drills, and the afternoons would have been spent doing music inside when it gets hot, but the morning rains put them behind in marching.

Johnson said that by the fourth day of camp, the band had far exceeded her expectations in spite of the limited rehearsals caused by the rain.

"This school has a reputation of getting superior ratings in competition and going to all-state. We have some really talented kids here and I would like to have every kid here play at that level," Johnson said.



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