Polytech’s marching band began practicing this season’s music in the second week of August. While most students were still enjoying summer vacation, marching band students were spending each weekday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. practicing for the coming season.
Once school started students spent between 15 and 16 hours a week practicing. All of that hard work culminated on Saturday, when the marching band traveled to Camp Hill, Pa. to compete in the Atlantic Coast Championships. The band placed fourth, beating out schools from across the region, missing third place by a mere .05 points.
Despite the triumphant end to their competition season, the marching band’s season didn’t start so smoothly. The program ended up with far fewer students than originally anticipated, said Arden Wellington, Polytech’s director of bands.
“We chose our music for this year based on the number of students we had last year,” Wellington said. “Consequently we had a show that was written thinking we would have 20 brass and we had 11. Our students had to do some compensating from the beginning and that takes time.”
The field show that Wellington selected for the band to perform is called “Images of Spain.” Wellington created the show by taking the beginning and end of a show that he liked and paired it with a middle section he arranged on his own.
The band performed the field show all season at football games and in October they competed in the Chapter 9 Band Championships at Appoquinimink High School in Middletown, earning first place and beating out bands from the Delaware-Southern Maryland-Chesapeake Region. This is the fifth consecutive year that the Polytech marching band placed at Chapter 9. That performance is what earned them an invitation to the Atlantic Coast Championships.
The Latin-inspired music that the band performed this year called for more modern marching and some flamenco-inspired moves on the part of the color guard, Wellington said.
The faster-paced marching done this year is a far cry from the marching that was seen in the ’50s and ’60s, Wellington said. A standard marching step is 22-and-a-half inches. The Polytech marching band was taking 46- and 47-inch steps at a fast clip.
“They were basically running while playing their trumpets and saxophones,” Wellington said.
Learning how to march is hard at first, said Ellie Zeresos, junior drum major for the marching band and Polytech 11th grader.
“Freshman year it’s a bit of a load,” she said. “Once you get the hang of memorizing the music and marching it turns into a bunch of fun. There are little road bumps; it’s like learning how to walk. It’s tough at first but once you get the hang of it you want to teach everyone else.”
Page 2 of 2 - In the end, the countless hours of hard work paid off. Winning felt phenomenal, Zeresos said.
“It felt good to see that we put all that time and effort in, especially during band camp in the summer and long hours after school, to see it turn out in the end.”