Pelham High School marching band prepares “Crossroads” show

By NATHAN HOWELL | Staff Writer

PELHAM – Pelham High School’s marching band students have had to face a number of challenges over the last year. They were able to perform in a limited capacity, but missed out on a lot of opportunities they would normally get to experience.

With caution, the PHS marching band is looking forward to making up some of those things, and is currently going through band camp to prepare this year’s show.

PHS Director of Bands Justin Ward said this year’s theme is “Crossroads,” which will feature well-known hits and explore the tough choices students have to make as they transition into their adult lives.

“We actually programmed this show for 2020,” Ward said. “It was fully designed and ready to roll, but when everything happened we decided that from a time and money standpoint we would sit on the investment until we could fully realize it. It is more or less how we reach different points in our lives where tough decisions have to be made that will affect everything. We thought a lot about our students and their choices of where to go to school, what job to take and other life decisions.”

Ward said the show will feature artists like John Lennon, Post Malone, Sara Bareilles and “everything in-between.”

This year’s marching band has approximately 160 members, who have all been working on their music in some form since the end of the last school year. In early July, the band began holding preseason band camps, where the hard work starts for most students.

“We started with our marching band through two spring training camps, where we really started to lay the groundwork. So much time has been spent on how we rehearse, so that when we get to that point we could really work on the marching and playing elements,” Ward said. “I think everyone is very excited to be back at practice, and having some sense of normalcy looking forward to a season of performances and potential competition.”

The landscape of the past year presented a new set of challenges, according to Ward. A lot of the students were not used to having this kind of large-scale outdoor practice, but he expressed his enthusiasm in the progress his students were making.

“We are very pleased with the efforts of the students. Just them getting acclimated on a large scale, practicing outdoors for so many hours and the ability to focus and process the amount of info we are asking them to process,” Ward explained. “Even dealing with the weather, which has been all over the place. Now even though we are dealing with heat, they have done a tremendous job to push ahead and focus on the next goal and ultimately make the show be realized.”

Even though the band is proceeding with optimism, Ward said they are still taking COVID very seriously.

“It is still somewhat similar to last year,” Ward said. “There were obvious challenges last season, and we are using what we learned to make sure we are taking the correct precautions and keeping everyone safe. We are keeping our eye on the COVID situation, and will make any necessary changes if needed.”

More than competition, performances and concerts, Ward said it was most important to ensure the students continued to receive a quality education.

“The important thing for our students is this is their education experience and that hasn’t changed. That is still at the forefront of helping them grow musically and academically,” Ward said.  “We are very excited to perform again for more people, bigger crowds and at a competitive venue. They are very excited for those opportunities. That is what we are working for our fans and community.”