Wildcat band tunes up for year
The De Soto High School marching braved the sweltering heat last Thursday afternoon for its first performance.
Band members lined up in rows on the practice field behind the school as their parents stood close by on the sidelines to see and hear the results from band camp.
"At camp, we cover what would take five weeks during the regular school year," DHS band director Justin Love said. "This is the only class where you show up on the first day and you are actually expected to do something."
Indeed, the band performed on the first day of class for freshmen Wednesday at a pep rally.
A summer without practice didn't sound pretty at the first day of the weeklong camp, Love said.
"Basically, that first day of course is a little rough and raw," he said. "Kids haven't played -- many of them since May."
Freshmen also are learning how to march on the first day, although many of them got a taste of marching in middle school on band night.
"The section leaders do a good job of teaching them the basics and the traditions," Love said.
Thursday's sneak-peak performance showed off the progress made in marching as the band played the DHS fight song "Wildcat Victory." The band members then invited their parents on to the field to teach them a few marching skills and see if they could keep up. The remainder of the show was completed inside the gymnasium so that everyone could get out of the heat. The band played songs it will feature at football games including "The Hand that Feeds," "Learn to Fly" and "Soak up the Sun."
After the performance, band members and the hundreds of friends and family who came to watch ate a potluck dinner, a tradition that Love started when he became band director eight years ago.
When Love first started, there were 38 students in the band. Now, there are 107 students in the band counting flag team members. Love said that is close to 20 percent of the school. He attributed part of the band's growth to the school's growth.
"Also I'd like to think that hopefully what we are doing is exciting to the kids," he said.
Freshman tuba player Caleb Adkins said camp was hot but worth it.
"Everybody was just having a good time," he said. "You get to chill out sometimes. You get to meet people you don't know."
Caleb said the first day was tough and the music is challenging coming from middle school, but it got easier.
"The second day was crazy easy," he said.
Senior drum major Trisha Roberts said she was surprised to hear how the band had improved by the end of camp.
"Compared to past years, it sounds great," she said. "The freshmen coming up are really strong."
Roberts has been in the band all four years and plays the alto and tenor sax. So far, she has enjoyed being a drum major, she said.
"It's a different way for me to learn more about music," she said.