The West Feliciana High School band has begun preparations for the upcoming season and is about halfway through the annual summer band camp. Band camp is used to get a head start on the upcoming year. They spend camp days rehearsing marching fundamentals, performing techniques, music, and more before the school year officially starts. Camp usually lasts about two and a half weeks. This time also gives incoming freshmen the opportunity to meet upperclassmen, and transition from middle to high school.
During camp, students learn the essence of teamwork, hard work, dedication, commitment, and the sense of unity of the band.
In the mornings, students do physical training exercise, warm up routines, and practice marching for halftime performances. Then they begin learning the music and do camaraderie exercises.
There are currently about 70 students enrolled in the band and flag team, but that number is expected to grow after school starts.
Band Director Kelvin Jones brings in specialists throughout band camp to instruct the students. This year, he brought in a brass specialist from the United States Army National Guard, Avery Sanders, who worked with the band and brass students on playing fundamentals and techniques. Jones said, “I must say his teaching has been invaluable!” Jones also brought in Kim Gedde who happens to be the General Music teacher at Bains Elementary. Gedde worked with the woodwinds on playing techniques as well. A professional percussionist named Lorenzo McCoy worked with the percussion section on new music, cadences, and fundamental techniques. These professionals give the students instruction from a person who specializes on their instrument. They give the students a chance to learn from someone other than the band director.
About the upcoming year Jones says, “The community and fans should be prepared to hear, hands down, the absolute best band to ever come through West Feliciana High in years! This is, without a doubt, the most talented bunch of students I’ve ever had at West Feliciana High. This year will truly be a treat for all people, from the classical fans all the way to those that like hip-hop and country music. The drum line will be extra special this year as well.”
The band will participate in their usual performances at football games but will also be preparing for a trip to Washington D.C. in January. The band has been invited to perform during the upcoming Presidential Inauguration. The concert band, jazz band, percussion ensemble, and flag team will be preparing for this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Jones says, “My goal is for the band to improve with every game. But I also want the band to be a crowd pleaser and a support system for the football team and community as it has been in prior years.”
Jones is going into his fourth year as band director at West Feliciana High.
Within the marching band there are a variety of instruments used, ranging from the piccolo to the bass drums, and Jones can play nearly every instrument well enough to start a student off. He played trumpet through high school and on scholarship in college.
To find out more about the West Feliciana High School Band, visit www.thespiritofwestfel.org.