What Does it Take to March with the Best?

What Does it Take to March with the Best?

by Susan Neuhalfen

Long before summer is over and school starts, the practices begin for the Argyle High School Marching Band.

The multi award-winning band started its season on July 28 as the new members came together to meet and start working on the fundamentals that make this band consistently one of the best in the state.

The group started at 7:00 am with “ice breaker” activities to get to know each other and learn about forward thinking, something very important when marching.

“You have to always be thinking and always have a plan,” said Argyle High School Band Director Kathy Johnson to the crowd of newcomers. “It’s imperative when you are marching to always think ahead.”

With the Texas heat, the band begins by marching every morning at 7:00 and will, five days a week, until school starts. Then they start marching every morning at 6:50am.

“We start with the basics,” said Argyle Middle School Band Director Evan Fletcher, one of several instructors involved in the process. “We learn posture, first steps, forward and backward marching and reading the field.”

Posture is a very important first step and one that takes a great deal of time with section leaders, drum majors and instructors scouring the lines to make sure the new students are performing to Argyle standards. The marching portion is equally scrutinized, though the band uses the method of positive reinforcement while teaching and learning the new routine.

After breaking for lunch, it’s time to learn the music. They begin with full band rehearsal for two hours and then they break off into sections. In addition to Fletcher, Bojan Gutic (AMS Assistant Band Director), Asa Burk (Jazz Band Director), Michael Lemish (Percussion Director) and James McNair (5th and 6th grade music director) all assist in teaching sectionals. There are also various private instructors who work with band members to perfect the sound.

After a break for dinner, they finish off with more marching from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. That’s a typical band day: fourteen hours, Monday through Friday until school starts.

“We do some fun stuff, too,” explains Johnson, who truly runs a tight ship. “We are all going to see the DCI movie and the last week we’ll have a family cookout before school starts. Truthfully, it’s all fun, even if it is hard work.”

They say it takes a village and, in the case of the Argyle Band, it does. There is a group of supportive parents who handle food, activities, band uniforms and more. The whole process, from start to finish, involves a well-oiled machine full of caring people, ready to help these students achieve success.

“It is not by accident that the Argyle band program has enjoyed years of consistent success,” said Johnson. “The dedication, standards, and efforts of the band program’s alumni, students, parents, teachers, and fans are the impetus behind the machine that is the Argyle Eagle Band.  The goal of all who are involved is very simple; power through adversity and always strive for excellence in all areas of your life.  It is more than just a ‘band thing’, it is a blueprint for living a productive and service-centered life, which is realized through the medium of music.”

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