Putnam High School prepares for marching band season

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Putnam - posted Mon., Aug. 19, 2013
The pit crew practices for the start of marching band season. Photos by D. Coffe
The pit crew practices for the start of marching band season. Photos by D. Coffey.

Percussion instructor Tyler Campbell was putting his pit crew through their paces on Aug. 15. It was the fourth day of band camp at Putnam High School and he was pleased with the progress the students had made. They were reading the rhythms and notes, they were getting emotional with the music, and they were giving 100 percent.

“To the ready,” he called out. They stood straight with their eyes down and arms by their sides. Then they launched into the music.
Campbell is one of three instructors band director Angelica Fadrowski has working with her this summer. Woodwind instructor Eric Balboni and color guard instructor Vanessa Springer are helping to shape a young band into a cohesive unit. Fadrowski is counting on a score arranged specifically for her students to carry them into competitions this year.

“Moment of Silence” is a score that combines Verdi's Requiem, Mozart's Requiem and the theme from the movie, “Requiem for a Dream.” “I love Verdi's 'Requiem.' The music is just gorgeous. And I love the writing for this piece,” Fadrowski said. “It sounds hard and difficult, but it's spot-on-perfect for us.”

Last week she and her band spent seven hours a day practicing the music, the marching and then putting them together with the choreography of the color guard. The dedication, work ethic and focus of her charges has made her proud. “These kids are willing to work,” she said. “We are pushing and plowing through so much. They have an amazing maturity level.”

Outside in a parking lot marked off with football field lines, woodwind musicians practiced a piece over and over. Drum Major Ryan Peterson directed them from a platform. Fadrowski kept time by banging a stick on a wooden box. “It's not good enough. Do it again,” she said. They did it again. She made them watch her march to the beat. She climbed up the platform with Peterson to watch their formation. She had Balboni play one recording over again. “Can we try it one more time?” she said. “If you listen to it a hundred times, you'll get it.”

In the meantime, Springer worked with her color guard, many of whom had never spun flags before. She was having them throw a lot and trying to get them to a fast-paced level. “They've been really good at taking direction,” she said. “We've come far.”

“I like the energy she brings to the band,” Peterson said. He also loves the fact that the music was arranged specifically for Putnam High musicians. In previous years the band has gotten its music off the Internet, which doesn't guarantee a good fit. Those pieces are usually written for 60- to 70-member bands having a wide range of instruments. Putnam has 40 musicians, up from 31 last year.

Fadrowski spent a lot of time and effort recruiting last year. She visited eighth-grade classes to make a pitch for the marching band. She opened up the program to two Putnam students who now attend Ellis Tech. She is getting the word out. She remembers when the school had 80 to 100 members in the marching band. She'd like to bring back those glory days. If her enthusiasm, energy and dedication are any indication, it will happen.

Putnam will compete in six events this year, plus the state competition. The Clipper Invitational, slated for Oct. 12, promises to bring up to 10 marching bands to town for the annual event.

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