Selma High School music students got a jump on the upcoming marching season last week.
Students in the school's marching band participated in a band camp held at the school Aug. 1-5. During the camp, lead by head marching instructor and drill writer Micah Masterson, students learned about what music they would perform this year, started doing some marching exercises and practiced with their instruments.
The band's field performance this year will be based on the song “The Storm" by Bay Area composer Adam Wilke.
The camp comes as the school's music program has undergone a few major staffing changes this year. The camp was the first time that students got to work with the new marching band instructor, Janna Hall, and new musical instructor Janet Tenpas, who works at the high school and Lincoln Middle School.
“I’m looking forward to getting everyone prepared for college, careers and life,” Hall said of her goals beyond teaching music and marching skills. “They’re growing up too fast on the one hand, but they can still act like little kids.”
Tenpas says she realizes that many music students may not become professional musicians. However, she said they can continue growing this talent all of their life.
“If you go see the Kingsburg Summer Band, you’re seeing 50-, 60- and 70-year-olds still playing their instruments," she said. "It’s an amazing thing and a big part of our culture.”
Beyond music techniques, Tenpas said the band experience teaches students a work ethic and camaraderie they can take with them into whatever career path they chose.
“I like to tell the kids that every single one of them matters," she said. "If one of them can’t be here, I have no second string or back-ups. To be successful, every single one of them has to give 100 percent.”
Besides the band instructors, other staff include Esperanza Tovar and Alyssa Citero, who will continue as color guard instructors. More staff – Phil Vallejo, Greg Gonzalez, David Guzman and Regina Jimenez – will work with percussionists.
“What they each do is so different from what the [other sections] are doing, so it has to be specialized,” Hall said.
Hall said she realizes it takes time to adjust to new teachers, but students like the new drum major Harsimran Bassi say she’s going to look at it as yet another learning opportunity.
“You have to act mature and accept the fact there’s someone new,” she said. “It’s a different learning opportunity and a positive change.”
Bassi is a junior and says she’s going to do her part to make the transition as easy as possible by reinforcing each teachers’ instruction and getting the students to cooperate as a unit.
“Each teacher has something different they bring to the table," she said. "Each different teacher has a strong quality about them that will help us. If we’re comfortable with one another and we respect one another, I think that teamwork will get us much farther.”
With their first Western Band Association competition already scheduled for Oct. 8, the Bears will get to show off their skills at the Heart of California Tournament of Champions at Madera High.
With new music and a new field show to learn and coordinate with the color guard, there’s no time to waste, Bassi said.
“You cannot walk in here thinking you know everything,” she said. “Music humbles you to be open-minded. Learning to play an instrument teaches you life lessons that will stick with you no matter what.”
Kingsburg High starts their band camp on Aug. 15, as their school year starts later than Selma’s. KHS’ music instructor, Mike Schofield, says their 2016 field show is entitled “Legacy,” which he and Fresno-area musician Shawn Glyde composed.
“The thing I think I look forward to the most at the beginning of every marching season is the new potential for our group to succeed,” Schofield said. “It’s always inspiring to see kids come together and work toward a common goal.”
The Vikings have two new drum majors this year: juniors Derrick Hirschfield and Ethan Colbert. The previous year’s drum major, Elissa Moreno, graduated in June.