The students gathered in a big circle on the stretch of grass near the baseball fields at Santa Clara High School. Keeping their feet parallel to each other, they marched in place though an eight-count beat. It was just one of the morning activities at the school’s April 30 marching band camp. About 60 members of the marching band showed a dozen incoming freshmen the ins and outs of this extracurricular activity.
“We’re trying to grow the marching band and we’re trying to get incoming freshmen from the middle schools interested in joining our band,” says Johnny Erdman, music director for Santa Clara High School. “Aside from making lifelong friends, students in marching band are also building life skills in time management, work ethic, as well as team work and they are learning how to work with others. Having experience helps. But my philosophy is that if you want to be in a music ensemble, we’ll get you in.”
While the kids practiced their march, Jordan Tao, color guard director for Santa Clara High School, was practicing a routine with a giant flag. She explains that color guarding nurtures athletic and artistic abilities because the guards have to dance and know how to toss and spin flags, sabers and rifles.
“I see a lot more commitment from the kids in the band as a whole as they get older,” says Tao, who has seen many students start in the marching band as freshmen.
The band consists of several sections, including color guards, horns and drums.
Sophomore Mei Lian Coble is a color guard who feels she has come a long way since her earlier days in the marching band.
“When I first started as a color guard, I was clumsy but now I’m more confident and can perform better,” Coble says. “There’s a lot of time commitment. We practice two afternoons a week and on Saturdays. But I love it. The color guards are my second family and the entire band is like my extended family.”
Junior Jervi Ranoy is unusually a true musician. He plays the flute in the marching band and symphonic band, and also plays the violin in the orchestra.
“I’m part of the woodwinds horn line for the marching band,” Ranoy says. “It’s nice to know there are people like me who play instruments and love music.”
Junior Devyn Snyder has been playing the trumpet since the fifth grade. Now she is one of the trumpet players for the marching band’s horn line.
“Being in the band is a bunch of fun,” Snyder says. “We go through everything together, through the ups and downs of competitions and the ‘Johnny basics.’ Johnny is our band director and his techniques can sometimes be challenging but we get through it all together.”