The Band Plays it Cool

Since time began, high school students have been familiar with
the term

band geek

and its often unflattering connotations. But the 70-odd
decidedly un-geeky music students that make up SBHS’ Scarlet
Regiment Band are debunking that stereotype one note at a time.
Since time began, high school students have been familiar with the term “band geek” and its often unflattering connotations. But the 70-odd decidedly un-geeky music students that make up SBHS’ Scarlet Regiment Band are debunking that stereotype one note at a time.

“If you look around you can see that my students have all different interests and come from all different walks of life,” band instructor Jim Zuniga said. “But they all appreciate sounds, they enjoy manipulating those sounds and they enjoy performance.”

One thing nobody can say about band students is that they’re lazy. During the school year, students attend three-hour or 90-minute classes each week and two after-school rehearsals that run three or more hours long. Oh, and don’t forget performances. Already the Scarlet Regiment is slated for 20 shows and competitions in the first semester alone, often within just days of each other.

“It’s definitely a big time commitment, but it’s a lot of fun,” junior Katy Koenig said. Koenig performs in the band’s colorguard, what Zuniga calls “the flash and splash” of the unit.

“Everybody gets along and we all help each other out when we need it,” she added.

Music students start off the school year before most of their contemporaries have even purchased school supplies with the time-honored tradition of band camp. Students come to school during the last week before classes to learn new music and routines, and polish up any skills that may have gotten rusty over the summer.

“Band camp sets the tone for the entire year,” Zuniga said. “This is where we decide what kind of band we want to be, and it can be tough for kids who don’t attend band camp to catch up. There’s a peer-pressure thing there, because most of the students have already made an emotional investment in this over their summer.”

Band camp also gives musicians an edge in memorizing their music – all are responsible for knowing around a dozen pieces by heart at any given time, said Zuniga – and getting back into shape. This is particularly important as students will spend hours during the year marching in heavy dress uniforms, some carrying and playing instruments that weigh more than most small children.

“Physicality is extremely important when you’re doing something like this,” Zuniga said. “Or you might not be able to keep up, or hurt yourself.”

What could possibly possess a normal, healthy teenager to sacrifice so much of their time year after year? For both veteran students and relative neophyte musicians, the answer was often simply that they enjoyed the thrill of performing.

“It used to be a little scary,” said senior Jim Malko, who plays clarinet. Malko, like many of his siblings, has been a musician since his grade school days. “But it’s something I really enjoy now, and I wish everyone would try it at least once.”

Scarlet Regiment fans can see their first performance this year at the kick-off game for SBHS’ football season on Sept. 8.

Danielle Smith covers education for the Free Lance. Reach her at 637-5566, ext. 336 or [email protected]

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