Band camp gets Memorial musicians in rhythm a week early
They know the horn-driving rhythm, the peppy mid-song keyboard solo, and Shannon’s tenor lament that made the song a smash hit in 1961. And as this week drags on, no one would blame them if they took inspiration from the song — and ran away.
As this idyllic New England summer draws to a close and most Manchester teenagers are enjoying one last week of outdoor pools and daytime television, band students have returned to the school-year rigors of memorization, drill and examination.
For seven hours each day this week, Dispensa and her fellow band students have blown or banged instruments while stepping along practice fields near Memorial. It’s a drill repeated by thousands of other music students across the state.
Earlier in the week, students concentrated on “Runaway,” the longest of four numbers the band will perform in football halftime shows this fall.
Play the right note.
Take the right step.
Land on the right spot.
Then stand around while Russell or Brien work out the kinks with the flutes or euphoniums.
Then do it all again, until the sound is right, the line is straight and the spacing is uniform.
“Keep your feet moving.”
“Euphoniums, I see too many shoulders. Trumpets, I see too many shoulders.”
“Good, do it again,” as the last syllable in Russell’s voice takes a jump in pitch and volume.
And the more they work on the number, the more the movements fall into sync.
The Memorial band is up against a deadline this year. The first football game — a week from tomorrow — is a home game, so the band must be ready for the 8 1/2-minute halftime show, Russell said.
“It’s no different from any class. The goal is to be the best you can be,” Russell said. “We’re just lucky. We get to perform in public.”