PHS band prepares for the 2023 season

Published 4:50 pm Wednesday, July 19, 2023

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By BARTON PERKINS | Staff Writer

PELHAM – The high was 94 degrees on Wednesday, July 19, but that did not stop the students of Pelham High School’s band program as they hit the baseball field to start prepping for the 2023 season. Band camp itself lasts for 11 days, but students spend almost a week getting ready for it.

We always begin with bringing the different groups—color guard, percussion, winds, etc—at different times to get them acclimated to our rehearsal expectations and the heat,”  said Justin Ward, director of bands at Pelham High School. “Additionally, at the beginning of our preparations, each group has different rehearsal needs, so it does not fully make sense to rehearse as a full band.”

Ward has been working at Pelham High for 13 years; for the past 10 of those, he has served as director of bands. During that time, he has seen major changes, such as the creation of the Pelham school district and the resulting support that has allowed for fine arts programs like band.

“We have been very blessed to have two superintendents and a school board that wishes to invest in the total experience of being a student in Pelham, and the fine arts are a large part of that experience,” Ward Said.

Most band students at Pelham do the program for all four years of high school, and according to Ward, many later go on to participate in college band programs across the country.

All of these students will have participated in a Band Camp like this one, but Ward says each year is slightly different.

“Each band and each year has a life of its own as not only the show, but the make up, strengths, weaknesses and potential of the band changes each year,” Ward said. “As a director, you are not focused on making this band achieve what last year’s band did or did not. You are focused on helping this band come to life and reach its potential.”

Pelham’s high school band will attend three competitions this year, including one in Chattanooga and one at Jackson State University. The third competition has not yet been decided, but students will also be touring collegiate band programs throughout the season.

This year the band will be putting on a show called “Bridges”, which will be about the bridges that connect us in both the physical and temporal realms. “Bridges” will contain music from artists across cultures, times and genres.

The groundwork for this show and the competitions the band plans on competing in will be laid down during the band camp over the next several weeks as the group works on achieving their full potential as a collective.

“That journey is what I am most excited about as this process is ultimately what makes it so meaningful for our students and their development,” Ward said.