Sunday, December 27, 2009

Muskegon Mirror - Fall Edition

Band Camp

Through the eyes of the drum majors

When asked to think about the above statement made Smith became silent. Was it because he didn't need another assignment due to his juggling football and drum major duties or because his brain was thinking back to those days at Grace adventures in late August?

Many Big Red Band students had sectional practices, weekly color guard and percussion rehearsals throughout the summer. Drum majors begin their own preparation by studying musical scores, recordings,vocal commands and conducting techniques. But the official band camp adventure begins early in August when most students and teachers were still enjoying the last few weeks of summer. The students and directors of the Big Red Marching Band begin their preseason rehearsals with "two a day" practices known as pre-band camp week. After this intensive week, the students, directors, camp nurse, auxiliary staff, and chaperones pack up their equipment and head to Grace Adventures Youth Camp in Mears, MI for an even more intensive experience lasting four nights in five days.

Three students in particular have a very important role in the success of the Big Red Band. They are the drum majors, who are the student leaders of the group. Nate Smith (senior), Elijah Curry (Junior) and Molly Christopherson (Junior) returning drum majors for the 2009 Big Red Marching Band. They help teach the new band members, push the returning members to be better, and keep the focus of all the students during rehearsals. They also organize freshmen/senior buddies, they protect the traditions that make the Big Red Band strong, they conduct, they march, they drive... in short they lead!

"Yes, being a drum major is demanding at times, but it not only helps the band get better, it helps us become stronger leaders," says Elijah Curry. Molly Christopherson adds, "Band Camp takes dedication, determination, discipline, trust, heart and respect. I really do care about this program and realize how 'big' it is. I believe if I show that, others will pick him on my attitude. I want the other members to respect the band like I do." Nate Smith says, "I feel like the drum major is sort of the 'poster child' for the band. If I am positive and respectful, then the other members will follow my leadership. I can see why the directors get so frustrated. It takes a lot of patience and determination to be a drum major, but the satisfaction at the end of a successful season makes it all worthwhile."

The drum majors see band camp as an opportunity for all band members to be focused without the distractions of school and home. Elijah Curry said, "I believe that we accomplish much more while at band camp because we see people as they really are. We see the good, the bad, and everything in between. But, we still make it work." Molly Christopherson agrees and says, "We actually get stuff done. Band Camp takes you away from your other problems, you get lost in the music." However all of them believe the most important goal of band camp is for the members to bond together and become a family. "You have no choice but to become family because you are with each other 24/7." Nate Smith became quiet again. He looked up and said, "I do a lot of things, but I need this band. It's just part of who I am."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Muskegon school students want your musical instruments

by Lynn Moore | The Muskegon Chronicle
Monday December 01, 2008, 11:21 PM

If your dad's old trumpet is gathering dust in the attic, or your son's violin -- that he tried and gave up -- has been relegated to a closet, Muskegon Public Schools has a better place for them.

The school district's music program is looking for donated instruments that will allow children, whose families can't afford to purchase instruments, to participate in band or orchestra.

While the district provides larger, very expensive instruments, like French horns, oboes, basses and cellos, it's up to students to provide most other instruments. If their parents can't afford to buy or rent instruments -- or don't have the credit needed to enter a lease agreement -- children are out of luck, and participating in band isn't an option for them.

The cost of renting instruments can range from $25 to $50 per month.

"There are kids who cannot be in the band program for the simple fact they cannot get an instrument -- it's impossible for them," said Janice Lawrence, director of Muskegon's instrumental music program.

At the same time, Lawrence said, "there are homes within our district, within Muskegon County, where instruments are sitting there not being used."

"We can take that instrument and give it to a kid so they can be in band," she said.

The district will provide a receipt so that donors can claim a tax deduction for their donation.

The district is seeking all types of instruments used in band and orchestra programs, including flutes, violas, clarinets, violins, trombones and cellos.

Lawrence estimates that 20 to 60 middle school students each year can't participate in band because they don't have instruments. Most students wanting to be in band or orchestra need to begin before high school, or they simply can't catch up, Lawrence said.

Kathy Cron, the district's orchestra director, said she hasn't had to turn away students, but they often have to switch to instruments that weren't their first choice.

"We need all the instruments," Cron said. "Even if they're broken, we can have them repaired."

She estimated 80 percent of her students can't afford to provide their own instruments -- compared with a few years ago when 75 percent could.

"We're just in a bad way right now," Cron said.

Music helps with brain development, providing students instruction in "another foreign language" as well as mathematics concepts, Lawrence and Cron said.

"But bigger than that, it's belonging to a group and understanding they are parts of a whole," Lawrence said. "They are responsible to people in the group. ... It's a family thing that they do."

Cron said music helps students academically and socially.

"These kids don't get in trouble because they're busy," she said. "We're making music together, we're not going out to look for things to do. ... These children are motivated."

At Muskegon High, the marching band is an important part of the school's storied tradition, Lawrence said.

"When they leave as seniors we have had them for seven years, and it is a part of who they are as a person," she said. "It's huge."

Contact the Instrumental Music Department at 231-720-2850

The address is:

Instrumental Music Dept.
c/o Muskegon High School
80 W. Southern Ave.
Muskegon, MI 49441

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Return from Band Camp 2009

Wednesday, August 26, marked the return of the Big Red Marching Band from a short trip north taken to prepare for the 2009 season.

Met with wild applause as they hit the field at Hackley Stadium, the band presented highlights from their upcoming halftime show, featuring the music of The Beatles.

Don't miss it!
Click on an image to enlarge it.
Camper awards: Veterans - Misty Harden and Kyesha Noble
New Camper - Emily Ferris

Camper awards: Veteran - Corey Bankhead
New Camper - Owen Verge

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Tunnel

Jamie Pesch
Creative Writing
29 May 2009

The Tunnel

I hear cheering, music and chanting. The buzzer sounds, and the

people line my walls like sardines in a can. It's dark outside, but

bright in here, for my lights glow with a strong intensity. My walls

are now completely plastered with bodies, and I hear the distant

beat. The deep pounding, like the heartbeat I never had. The sound

grows louder, and the source comes into view. The gleaming brass,

swinging through the air to the rhythm of the drums. Endless rows

of night black and blood red uniforms passing by, one after another.

The strong look on their faces illustrates the meaning of the word

"Pride." I think back and remember the man who started it all,

William Stewart. He started the Friday night tradition; he started

the event that gives me life. I see the people pursuing behind the

band. Within minutes, my tunnel is empty. I am alone again. There

is always an eerie emptiness left behind when my walls are bare.

It could be the spirits of past tradition. Either way, I am dormant,

yet again.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

No Girls Allowed

From the March 1942 monthly edition of Said and Done:

As one sits in the auditorium and listens to the band play, it seems almost unbelievable that when it was first formed it was considered bad taste to have a band play indoors.

Since the formation of our band 32 years ago, it has grown to have a vital part of some of our most impressive assemblies.

Mr .Robinson was hired as director of instrumental music in 1910. The instruments of the band he organized were valued at only $800. This is a small figure when we consider that the instruments today are valued at over $20,000.

In 1912 the band was made up of 17 players. Here again we have a great contrast with the 110 piece band of today.

The first band uniforms were purchased in 1921. They were gray in military style. In 1925 they replaced their gray military outfits with red and white uniforms. During the last depressions the band was unable to spend much money for such things as uniforms. However, by 1936 the band had accumulated enough money to purchase their present red and black uniforms.

Today girls are a great asset to our band; yet before 1937 they were not even allowed to join.

The band first participated in the May Festival in 1926.Today we all look forward to Thursday night during the May Festival. This is a band night, and we hear selections by our band and by the bands of all the neighboring towns.

For the past four years our band has gotten a highly superior rating at the Holland Tulip Festival. It was the first high school band in the country to broadcast on a regular schedule.

The intermission between the halves of the football game would be a very boring period if it wasn't for the band and their splendid maneuvers.

A welcome addition was made to the band this year with the arrival of Mr. Cochrane as assistant director to Mr. Stewart. We all hope that they'll both be back next year leading our band to more fame and glory.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Interesting place - Facebook

Got a Facebook page? If so, check out some of the following groups

Start a discussion, write on a wall, add photos, post some video or start your own group.

Looks like the place to be in 2009!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Annual Big Red Band Flower Sale

Spring is just around the corner. Time for the Big Red Band's Annual Flower Sale. Click on this image for a large, printable version of the order form.

Call Deb Wells at 231-773-8433 by April 27th to place your order!

You can also mail in your order to:
MHS Music Department Office
c/o Deb Wells
80 West Southern Ave
Muskegon, MI 49441

Make your check payable to:
Muskegon High School Band Parent Association

Flowers arrive on May 7th and can be picked up anytime between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. at the south end of historic Hackley Stadium!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

High School Band to be Organized - 1921

Check out this wonderful find from 1921 on a watershed event in the band's history. Later day yearbooks indicate that the proper spelling of the name of the director of the band as Carl Cerconi. Click on the image for a larger view of the article.

Check out some images from the band's history by clicking HERE!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Welcome to the Muskegon High School Band Blog!

Welcome to the Blog for events related to the Muskegon High School Big Red Band. This site will include a host of items, including upcoming events, historical articles, information on fundraisers, and assorted other items of interest to current and former band members, as well as to those who simply enjoy the band.

Visit often to see what "What's Going On".