Marching mayhem: PHS band busy perfecting field show

PELHAM – Band camp is in full swing at Pelham High School. By the time school starts back, marching band students will have completed more than 100 hours of rehearsal, most of which was done outside underneath the rays of the blazing sun.

In two-and-a-half weeks’ time, the PHS marching band will have learned and perfected the field show that audiences will enjoy at the school’s football games. Putting on a good show is not a task the band takes lightly – students spend countless hours perfecting music, drill and choreography.

Band camp began on July 23 and will continue until school starts on Aug. 9, but new members and individual groups were already practicing before then, said band director Justin Ward. Pre-camp practices consisted of the percussion, color guard, new members, dance team and majorettes.

Ward said new members are encouraged to attend pre-camp, which began July 16, to get a head start on learning marching basics and new music. He said it’s a good way to ease them into the rigors of band camp.

PHS senior and majorette Anna Grace Hall said band camp is hard but is has made her tougher, stronger and given her a lot more endurance.

“When you first get here it’s really awful, but it gets easier,” she said. “You just have to pay attention and keep pushing yourself.”

Even though it’s tough, sophomore and majorette Ella Griggs added that camp brings band members together as a family and gives each section of the band some bonding time.

This season’s field show is titled, “Ascend,” and it is about mountain climbing, Ward said.

“We begin at the base of a mountain, and after hearing the call of the mountain, we begin our journey to the top,” Ward said.

Ward said the field will be transformed into a mountain using tarp.

“This is a visually-minded show,” Ward said. “There will be ladders to simulate climbing, ropes and different tools used for climbing. The color guard also has mountain climbing-type uniforms.”

The show is broken down into four movements: Base camp, the climb, admire the beauty and the peak. The eight-minute field show features original composition as well as music from movie sound tracks.

“Ascend” will be performed for all home and away games as well as at four competitions in the fall.

Ward said the band rehearses at different times on different days. Some days consist of two practices, one in the morning and the other in the evening, and other days the band has just one practice. Rehearsals are a combination of indoor and outside practices.

“It’s a lot of rehearsal so a little variety keeps it fresh,” Ward said. “I also want to give them an opportunity to rest and rehab their bodies after long and strenuous days outside.”

Every year Ward talks to the students about nutrition, staying hydrated and taking care of their bodies because the heat can be brutal, but this year he’s taken it a step further by inviting an athletic trainer from the University of Alabama to talk to students about health and wellness.

Pelham Band Boosters provide water, popsicles, bags of ice and towels to students while they’re practicing outside to help keep them cool and hydrated.

“We’re going an extra step to educate them about nutrition and health,” Ward said. “I want them to be more physically fit and to do the right things with their bodies so that they will be more successful as a band, as individuals and beyond.

“Camp has been great. We’re really looking forward to an exciting season and we can’t wait to share it with everyone,” Ward said.