AVON PARK — Drum major Jhamil Pujols strikes a woodblock to set the tempo as his fellow members of the Avon Park High School Grenadier Band work on their marching rudiments.
Dressed casually in shorts and T-shirts, the students had put their instruments aside at the corner of the parking lot behind Joe Franza Stadium to focus on marching forward, backward and sideways and turning on cue.
Monday was the first day of band camp for the Avon Park High School band students and they are practicing in earnest for their first performance at the
home football game Aug. 29.
Band director Anthony Jones looked on as his students practiced their steps under ideal conditions for a Florida summer, plenty of clouds to block the sun, but no thunder or lightening despite darkening skies.
“Day one is just trying to get the students to learn the basics and learn how to march again and play their music at the same time,” Jones said.
They had four rehearsals in June where the students worked on music in preparation for band camp.
After the marching drills, the students will grab their instruments to do it again, he said. Jones likened it to get back on a bicycle.
Half of the band’s music will be from Cirque de Soleil “Quidam” show. The band’s show will feature a drum break called “Baja,” which is similar in style to the two songs from Cirque de Soleil, Jones noted.
The band’s closing number will be from the third movement of Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9.
The band will march with 54 members this season, Jones said. “We are really short on brass this year, but I think we have enough to pull things off and do what we have to do like we always do. We have a good group of kids.”
In the band room, marimba player Christie Flowers and drum major Kimberly Davis, both juniors, discussed the music on one of the songs they will be performing.
Flowers started playing the marimba only this year. She had been performing in the percussion pit on the gong and wind chimes, etc.
The large and expensive marimba poses a challenge for practice.
Flowers said she doesn’t practice at home.
“You can’t really practice it unless you have a set of bells and I don’t,” she said.
Flowers likes being in the band because it is where she can “vent out.”
“It’s my venting system,” she said.
Davis practiced on the vibraphone.
She is excited about the band’s new music.
“We will have a much more exciting show this year,” she said.
Does she have musical plans after high school?
“Oh, of course, I play an oboe, which is kind of like a small double-reeded clarinet and I plan on going to college for that,” Davis said. As a drum major she tries to know a little bit about every instrument, but her primary instrumental focus is on woodwinds.
Why the oboe?
“I was going to play the clarinet originally, but I picked up an oboe one day and liked it a lot better and it just kind of called to me,” she said. “I like really passionate music on the oboe, but I like fast and energetic music on keyboards and stuff.”
Jones said: “The goal for the whole week is to try and get the first two songs on the field before we break at the end of the week.”
Then they will go into their regular rehearsal schedule - 6 - 8:30 p.m., Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The Lake Placid High Green Dragon Marching Band started its band camp activities last week and started its full camp for all members on Monday.
Sebring High School’s Spirit of Sebring March Band started its band camp on Friday.