Behind the Scenes of Band Camp

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Behind the Scenes of Band Camp

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The start of football season makes most people think of school rivalries and tailgating. But it has a different meaning for the Moravian College Marching Band (MCMB). For us, it’s a chance to show off the hard work we’ve put into preparing the halftime show. 

Imagine this: it’s 9 o’clock in the morning on a hot day in mid-August.

Most students are probably still back at home in their beds sleeping, right? Well, the almost seventy members of the marching band are already at band camp, spread out across Betty Prince Field to learn this year’s halftime show, “The Sketches of Spain.” 

And there’s a lot to learn, memorize, and perfect before the first football game on September 14. 

A typical day of band camp starts promptly at 9 a.m. with stretches and marching basics, where the band learns the proper technique for forwards and backwards marching. We also practice the proper step size, which helps us stay in line with each other and keep the space between us even.

We start learning our drill right away. 

For drill, each person is assigned a dot, symbolized by a letter and number, which shows the exact location they have to be on the field for each formation. There can be anywhere from 10 to 30 formations in a song, depending on the length of the song. So, learning drill is a lot of running back and forth between formations and repeating them until we have them memorized and they look good. 

By the time lunch arrives, we’re both tired and famished. 

An hour later, we’re back at it with sectionals. This is when the marching band breaks into small groups to memorize and perfect their role in the show’s three songs, including “Malagueña” and “El Cumbanchero.” 

It’s also when color guard members spin and toss flags, rifles, and sabres to the choreography that student color guard instructors Miles Molerio and Regina McElroy spent all summer creating.

Learning the work is always difficult at first. 

Each move gets assigned a count that aligns with the formations we learned earlier during drill. When we first learn them, it’s hard for all 11 color guard members to remember both the work and the counts. After a lot of hard effort, we move in unison on the field.  

Sometimes, time and weather permitting, we’ll reconvene on Betty Prince to review and learn more drill before breaking for dinner at 5 p.m. 

At 6 o’clock, we come back together, this time on south campus for a group bonding activity, playing like games of Kahoot or two truths and a lie. 

But we’re not done yet. The entire band, under the direction of the drum majors and band directors, continues to work on the music together. Outside, the color guard continues to hone their work, getting it up to show tempo by doing it over and over to a recording of the music playing in the background.  

By the time practice ends at 9 p.m., band members are exhausted and head back to their dorms. However, before they get to rest up for another long day of band camp, they review  their music or videos of the work and the app that shows the drill to make sure it’s memorized. 

But that’s just band camp. Once the semester starts, the Moravian College Marching Band practices twice a week for two hours in preparation for football games, parades, and an exhibition at J. Birney Crum Stadium in Allentown at the end of September. 

There is a lot of effort that goes into the long band camp days, but it’s nothing compared to balancing marching band with other clubs, classes, and work. However, no matter how exhausting (and painful) it may be, it’s totally worth it to support the Moravian’s football team and to hear the cheers from the crowd at halftime when we march onto the field. 

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