MARLBOROUGH – If you drove by the Whitcomb Middle School in mid-August, you would see 45 Marlborough High School and eighth grade musicians marching through the summer heat in preparation for the upcoming season.
A yearly tradition, the camp welcomes musicians from eighth to 12th grade for about a week before the start of the school year to hone their skills.
“The camp is about essentially getting the band back together,” said Marlborough High School Band Director Jim Verdone.
Verdone noted that last year there were three eighth graders who participated in the camp and this year 11 joined. One of the benefits of having the eighth graders participate was that they could see what extracurriculars were like at the high school, he said.
The camp ran Aug. 15-19 and lasted about six hours each day.
In the morning, the musicians practiced the fundamentals of marching before they spent time on the football field to familiarize themselves with their positioning for the halftime show. After lunch, the band reconvened to practice for the rest of the day.
As the week progressed, Verdone said the band combined their marching with playing to solidify their complete routine before school starts. That way, after-school practices could be used to perfect their performance.
This year, the band was able to run through all three halftime routines by the end of the camp. That’s a goal it was not able to meet last year because some of the students were behind due to the pandemic.
Verdone said each year brings an opportunity for a new halftime show.
Last year, the show was called “Welcome Home” because after the pandemic, the students were “home again” at Marlborough High School and featured music by Walt Disney.
This year’s show is entitled “This is Me,” symbolizing students finding themselves in high school. The show will open with Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” followed by “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi and “This is Me” from the Greatest Showman.
“Being part of music, especially here in Marlborough, is something very special. It has a big family component to it,” Verdone said. “Whether it be through our band, choir, or contemporary acapella groups, a lot of kids find out who they truly are and who their friends are through our program.”
One such student is Violet Ren, who is a drum major this year. Ren said as a first-time drum major, she was nervous walking into the camp. However, she said she learned she was more capable than she thought.
That gave her the confidence to step into this leadership role.
“Band is challenging for everyone, and that’s what makes it special,” Ren said. “Everybody walks away with things they need to work on but they also discover their own strengths. It’s the perfect blend for giving students the confidence they need – not just for school, but for their entire life.”