Marching Band Drums in New Members
By RYAN CHANNER and DANIEL CONTRERAS
Here comes the marching band! The stomping of feet echos through the air, matched in volume only by the instruments roaring.
The Midwood band program has made a significant change this year. The marching band has expanded from its original size of 50 musicians to 80, with space for up to 100 students. There’s one other notable difference this year: The band will be in two periods.
Mr. Daniel Jordan, one of the band directors said, “If we expand the size of the band, it helps students in almost all areas of learning music. There are more opportunities for peer learning, group work, overall sound, etc.”
“I'm excited because it's the biggest the ensemble has ever been, meaning students are interested and administration is supporting us with programming,” said Mr. Jordan. “We are able to have stronger numbers for retention and stronger connection with our students since we'll have them for multiple years.”
As the students work on music, perform in the various concerts and shows, and practice and rehearse together, they're given the opportunity to develop relationships and bonds with both their teachers and bandmates who play with them everyday.
However, since the band is split amongst two periods, it creates certain challenges. For example, each period has unique instrumentation, which may pose a challenge to less experienced students when the bands are combined.
Mr. Jordan said, “Since we have two periods, the instrumentation is not ideal. All of our percussionists are in my 9th period band and [Mr.Alexander] Jung has maybe two. We have to program after school rehearsals for both bands so they can rehearse together to hear the full sound.”
Because of the periods some students ended up in during programming, some are faced with the challenge of practicing in smaller numbers. For example, while both periods may have a similar number of trumpets to play all of the trumpet parts, the two percussionists who don’t get the chance to play with the rest of the percussion section every day will have to adjust much more quickly than other students.
The other band director, Mr. Alexander Jung, said, “Mr. Jordan and I have to work more closely and in sync with each other so that when we combine the bands later it will be as seamless and painless as possible.”
The expansion is one of many changes the band program has made in recent years to grow, strengthen, and improve, some of which include the Jazz Band becoming an 11th period class with a more challenging and educational workload and the Wind Ensemble playing higher level NYSSMA (New York State School Music Association) music.
“The near future will entail room organization and a fully working barcode system with the instruments,” said Mr. Jung. “I hope that [the marching band] becomes its own ensemble separate from everything else, just like Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, and Symphonic Band.”
The band has many prospects and projects in the future. One major event is going to be at Homecoming on October 27. The marching band is scheduled to lead the crowd from Midwood to the game.
Many students expressed how their experience in the band has helped them grow.
Damani Douglass ’19 said, “Midwood band has changed me by integrating me into a program that I truly belong in. I have learned a plethora of ways to interpret and play music that I would have most definitely been blind to otherwise. I've met some of my closest, long-lasting friends through our music program, and I am grateful for the opportunity to play for my school.”
Douglass continued, “I play in All-City Marching band,” “I initially auditioned on a whim when I first started taking my instrument seriously. Even though I didn't make it at first, my music teachers, Mr. Jordan and Ms. [Melissa] Williams, made it clear that if I wanted to grow as a trombonist, I would have to look into programs outside of school. Ms. Williams was the person who introduced me to All-City marching band, and Mr. Jordan and her pushed me to re-audition in the next auditioning cycle. My involvement in this program is a direct product of the Midwood band program and the amazing music teachers within it.”
Even those who graduated are proud of where they came from and the work that continues to be done.
Midwood alumnus David Wilder ’18 said, “Members of this band have become my absolute most close friends and also, aside from my parents, my biggest motivators to be the best person, musician, athlete, and student that I can be.”
Wilder said, “Performances within Midwood that I have done with the jazz band are the real influences I've had. Being asked to stand up and solo in front of a crowd and honestly having no clue what to do is what’s driving me to actually learn how to do these things. There comes a point in your musicianship where you want to know that you've earned the recognition you’re receiving from the crowd and the teachers who trust you enough to let you express yourself in front of their colleges and their boss.”