Marching Band Spring Training

From Mr McGuire:

Good Afternoon,

I hope you are all doing well. This is a long email so please bear with me. I am writing to provide information about the spring training program for the 2021 marching band season. The first rehearsal for color guard is Monday May 17th at 6:00pm and for winds and percussion on Tuesday May 18th at 6:00pm. 

The What and the Why…We kick off our spring training program in an effort to better prepare for the fall marching band season. Throughout this process, we will rehearse and teach students fundamental skills of marching band, start learning field show music, and develop routines that will become critical to the success of the band program in 2021. Throughout the spring, we’ll rehearse twice per week (see the schedule section below) through the end of June. This will adequately prepare students for the band camp experience and set everyone up to be successful in marching band this year.

Percussion members should note that we will likely assign students to the front ensemble or battery during the spring. That decision is solely the decision of the percussion staff and band director. Students may be asked to audition, but will likely be evaluated over the course of a few rehearsals. The most important criteria that we use to make this decision is to consider where they will be the most successful. If a student wants to play snare and is assigned bass drum or marimba, that doesn’t mean that they will stay there for their entire high school career. Each season and year is different. We want each student to be successful and will assign instruments based on this goal.

Who it’s for…
If your child plans on participating in marching band in fall of 2021, then this program is for them. We ask that all marching band students participate. These are mandatory rehearsals, but we do have some flexibility as students need to remain focused on academics at the end of a very challenging school year.

Attendance Policy and Conflicts…If you have a conflict with a rehearsal, I ask that you have your child send me an email to let me know that they’ll be missing and why they won’t be able to attend. I know that some students are working to get caught up in their classes after the unusual school year, and we have a slate of MCAS tests coming our way. I just ask for advance communication if a student will be missing. If a student misses many rehearsals, or has a number of “no shows”, I will reach out to you to check in and make sure that your child isn’t falling behind.

It is always better to come to a portion of rehearsal than to miss it entirely. If a student needs to come late or leave early, better to do that than not come at all. Again, I just ask that your child contact me ahead of time to let me know. 
Please note that this policy changes considerably once we hit band camp. At that point students must attend all rehearsals and performances unless they are ill, have a religious commitment, or a family emergency.

What your child needs to bring…For color guard students, if they have any equipment at home (flags, sabres, etc.), then they should bring those things with them. Otherwise they’ll need comfortable clothes (workout clothing, gym clothes) and sneakers to rehearse in. 
For wind and percussion students, they’ll need their instruments (instruments for wind players, percussionists will be provided with drums, mallet instruments, and sticks/mallets). Students should also plan to wear comfortable clothing and sneakers. No sandals/open toed shoes or jeans.

All students should plan to bring a sweatshirt or light jacket in case it gets cold. We all know how unpredictable New England weather can be. Students should eat dinner before they come, but should come prepared with a light snack (fruit, etc.). Please be aware that some students have nut allergies, so we ask that you avoid sending your child with anything made with nuts if possible. Students must bring water with them. We suggest eventually (before band camp) purchasing a gallon sized jug, such as the one seen here – although anything like this will do. This won’t be completely necessary until band camp, so a large water bottle will be fine for now. Hydration is important, and students will be provided with water breaks.

Students should also come prepared with a mask. We are still adhering to all COVID protocols and masks must be worn at all times during rehearsal (except when the brass and woodwinds are playing – more on that below). Other items to bring include: 

  • A hat or visor with a brim to keep the sun off of students faces
  • Sunblock
  • Bug spray
  • All musicians should bring a 1inch 3-ring binder with sheet protectors to keep all of your music that you are given
  • Masking tape (we will rehearse outside, so this will be helpful to tape down music so it doesn’t blow away in the wind
  • Brass and woodwind players should be sure their instrument is in good working order and bring extra supplies such as valve oil and reeds as appropriate. 

Medical Concerns…If your child has any medical concerns, especially if they are new to the program, please reach out to me to make me aware. I will be working with our nurses to get all of the pertinent information on each student in the band program, but it’s always good to double check.

COVID Protocols…We are still following all protocols for COVID-19 and I am up to date on the most recent guidelines from DESE. Students must remain masked at all times. The only exception will be taking water breaks (10 feet apart from each other) and if winds and brass students are playing their instruments. When wind and brass students are playing, they will be 10 feet apart from other students and all facing the same direction (per DESE guidance). I take safety very seriously, we want all of your children to remain healthy and feel safe. 
If your child is experiencing COVID symptoms or may have been exposed to someone with COVID, please do not hesitate to keep them home. You can simply let me know what is going on with an email. We will work hard to get them caught up with anything that they may have missed.

Schedule and pick up/drop off…We will hold spring training on the following dates: 

Color Guard DatesWinds and Percussion Dates
May 17, 20, 24, 27May 18, 20, 25, 27
June 3, 7, 10, 14, 17, 21, 24, 28June 1, 3, 8, 10, 15, 17, 22, 24, 29

Students may run into conflicts with awards nights and other school events. They will be excused for those events – I just ask that they send me an email with the conflict so that they are accounted for.

We begin rehearsals at 6:15pm, so we ask that all students arrive at MHS by 6:00pm so they can prepare and be on the field and ready to go. Rehearsal ends by 8:45pm at the latest, so students should be ready to be picked up by 9:00pm. We will do our best to end on time to ensure that we aren’t making you wait in the parking lot.

Band Camp and The Fall Schedule…We continue to nail down the specifics of the fall season. We know that we will run band camp from August 16 – 21 from 1pm – 9pm. We will rehearsal color guard on Monday/Thursday/Saturdays and winds and percussion on Tuesday/Thursday/Saturdays in the fall. Exact times will be released soon. We will also release a competition schedule as soon as it is available.

I know that this is a lot of information. Starting our spring training will allow new and returning members an opportunity to balance their school work with marching band rehearsal. Families, please note that it is normal for there to be a few bumps along the way. Allow students to learn from this experience, even returning members will need time to adapt to a busier schedule. 
If you have any questions, please reach out to me and I’ll be more than happy to answer anything that I can. Thank you for bearing with me on a very long email on a Friday afternoon. Have a great weekend and I can’t wait for marching band to start up again!

All the best,