Since joining the Science Hill High School Marching Band, seniors McCoy Davidson and Alex Wheelock have played in parades in Pasadena, Calif., and New York City.
“We’ve been literally from coast to coast with this band, and I don’t know where we would be without it, as people, as individuals. It’s just taken us so far from where we were,” an impassioned Davidson said Wednesday during a short break before he and Wheelock joined the rest of the marching band on the practice field during their third day of band camp.
Both trumpet players couldn’t imagine where else they would be if they hadn’t joined the band in the sixth grade. For them, band is much more than just another class.
“You can go to a class in high school and you can learn math and you can learn science, but you come to band and you learn life lessons. You take stuff from band that you’re going to go the rest of your life with. You learn teamwork, responsibility,” Davidson said.
“You come here and you learn the music and you learn how to play but you also learn to control yourself, how to be disciplined and how to be a team player,” he said.
The life lessons taught in all of the fine arts programs at Science Hill is something the department prides itself on, assistant band director Dan McGuire said.
“It goes far beyond notes and rhythms. It goes far beyond just music. We teach kids how to live, how to be good citizens. We teach them how to manage their time. The lessons that they learn are pretty invaluable,” he said.
Davidson and Wheelock said they get a certain sense of pride representing Johnson City and Science Hill whenever they’re out performing. Participating in the arts also gives them a chance to be more well-rounded.
“I just think it’s a great outlet to express yourself and to be a part of something bigger,” Wheelock said.
Davidson said band has continued to mold him into the person he’s become.
But learning lessons and continuing to improve one’s musical ability doesn’t happen overnight. There’s a lot of hard work involved, and that’s part of what band camp aims to do.
Spending 12 hours a day Monday through Friday learning countless sets of marching drills and memorizing this year’s music is not as hard as one might think, Davidson said. Sure, it’s hot and you go home drenched in sweat, but Davidson said there’s a rush that he gets from being on the field with the rest of the band that makes him forget about everything other than marching and music.
“It’s just a side-effect as to you being on the field. You just go out there and you forget about it,” he said.
The week of band camp is all about starting a new year, prepping the show and beginning preparations for the October competition season.
“This week is really where we set the pace for the rest of the season. If we get this week off to a good start, then the rest of the season generally goes well as well,” he said.
This year’s show is called “3-D,” which features the music of three different composers, including Czech composer Antonín Dvorák, French composer Claude Debussy and American composer Michael Daugherty.
“It’s something that we think that both the students will enjoy and we’ll be able to learn a lot from it and we think that the crowd that we play for on Friday nights and all the people that will hear the band, we think they’re really going to like the music,” McGuire said.