Fun and fundamentals Charleston area bands get ready for fall season, competitions
It’s August, which means parents are buying school supplies, football teams are stepping onto practice fields and teachers are prepping for the school year.
It also means high school marching bands are holding summer band camps. Schools in the Charleston area, including West Ashley High School and James Island Charter High School, started band camps last week.
“What we do is we work on marching fundamentals and some exercises to stretch their muscles out so that they can perform effectively without any injury,” said Neville Curtis, the band director at James Island Charter.
West Ashley’s band camp lasts for two weeks with focus placed on the fundamentals during the first week, according to Eddie Shealy, band director for West Ashley High School.
With band camp lasting from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at West Ashley, the students make the best of the time they are given to practice.
“Instead of being cramped at the last couple of rehearsals and being rushed for time, we want to make every rehearsal beneficial as much as possible,” said Sam Smoak, junior trumpet player with the West Ashley band.
Smoak, along with the rest of the band members, said he easily recognizes the benefits of being part of the marching band.
“It really gives me the chance to be part of something bigger than just a small ensemble,” Smoak said.
The band directors at West Ashley give the hard-working members an hour of fun activities toward the end of the day.
With all this time put into practicing, the students maintain a positive attitude as they prepare to perform at events, including football games and band competitions.
“I know that I have to keep a positive attitude because if I don’t, then no one else will,” said Tyler Grant, a junior and a clarinet player with the West Ashley band.
“I feel that we can really raise the bar this year,” Smoak said.
James Island Charter High School also has its share of positivity and promise among the band members this year.
“Everybody’s excited, everybody’s intelligent and everybody has a great work ethic,” Curtis said. “Everybody understands concepts very well and everyone has bought the concept of continuous improvement.”
While it has been a hot summer, band members at James Island, about 60 this year, go outside to practice whenever they can.
“We have been blessed (the first week) since it’s been very cloudy and we have had some rain,” Curtis said. “The heat hasn’t affected us at all.”
Burke High School as well as West Ashley and James Island Charter will compete in the Wal-terboro Band Classic at Colleton County in September and the Lowcountry Invitational hosted by Wando High School in Octo-ber.
West Ashley High also will host the 2A and 4A Lower State Championships as they have the last six years.