How HHS marching band perfects their craft

By Lindsey Steel

It is often said that practice makes perfect. With its long hours and rigorous schedule, Homestead’s Mighty Mustang Marching Band is always preparing for their next show or competition.

The band practices 13 hours a week, with three hours every Monday and Thursday, and an additional seven hours on Saturday, director John Burn said. These practices consist of physical, visual and musical elements.

“Practices are focused on physical readiness like stretching and some calisthenics,” Burn said. “We also go into marching fundamentals, where we make sure everyone is moving their feet in time and has good posture. Then we clean the movements of the show before playing the pieces.”

STRIVING FOR PERFECTION: The marching band prepares for their upcoming competition. (Photo courtesy of Lindsey Steel)

While polishing their pieces is a crucial part of practice, Burn stresses the importance of being physically fit. Marching band, Burn said, is no different than a sport.

“At the tempo [the students] are moving, it’s like doing laps,” said Burn. “They’re playing music, and sometimes they’re wearing equipment like tuba or drums, which are 10 or 20 pounds. What they’re doing is absolutely physical exertion.”

Even though they have to put in long hours, senior Allison Park and freshman Sarah Pinsky said they have had an overwhelmingly positive marching band experience. Park, who is one of the student conductors of the band, said the time everyone contributes not only allows relationships to form, but also strengthens the performance of the band as a whole.

“[Practices] are definitely a good bonding experience with your section of the band,” Park said. “All this extra time we spend practicing and doing team-bonding makes us better.”

Pinsky attributes her smooth transition into high school to marching band. Pinsky said that frequent practices have fostered a community that has allowed her to meet new people and make friends.

“I’ve formed connections with other people [in marching band],” Pinsky said. “So far, I’ve also made a lot of friends.”

However, Pinsky said practices may deduct time from her other activities, and they can be draining. Despite this, the freshman said practices are still worthwhile experiences.

As significant of a time commitment as it may be, the extra work is vital in ensuring the success of the band, Burn said. 

“The more you put into something, the more you get out of it,” Burn said. “And the more you get out of it, the more you can give back to it. So, [practicing allows] this upward spiral of excellence and really high-quality performances.”