PLANT CITY — Summer ends early for members of local high school bands.
While other students are enjoying their last few days before the opening bell, band members are hard at work perfecting their routines.
“It’s a big time commitment, but it’s worth it,” Durant High School drum major Daniel Fowler said.
At Durant, for example, band summer camp started about a month before the bell rings in the new school year on Aug. 20.
It all boils down to the old adage: practice makes perfect.
“To be a competitive band, it’s imperative to have a summer camp,” said Chris Satterfield, in his fourth year as Durant band director. “Our work is complicated. This is really the blood and guts of the season.”
Satterfield wants his 78 members of the marching band to be at their peak at their first public performance at an Aug. 30 home football game against Armwood High.
His assistants include Danielle Batcheller, a University of South Florida music major helping out for her second season; and Durant chemistry teacher Jeremy Lynch, who is in his 13th year helping the band.
Estela Tice, whose son Christopher is a tuba player, said he doesn’t mind spending his last days of summer at the school.
“He likes the camaraderie and he likes the challenge,” said Tice, a member of the Cougars band boosters.
The daily practices last about five hours, often outdoors near the Cougars football field. There are frequent water breaks and periods of rest from the oppressive heat.
Aiden McFarlane, a sophomore in his first year with the marching band, said there’s a side benefit to the outdoor practice sessions.
“It’s a good workout,” he said.
The school’s 11-member color guard practices with the band. The color guard’s instructors include director Frederick Bartlet, technician Umarin Patamasank and sponsor Wendy Ryals.
Bartlet said he develops the routines, borrowing some from previous years and including some new material.
Bartlet said the color guard needs the same summer practice as the rest of the marching band.
“The quicker you can get the basics in hand, the earlier your show becomes its best. We are perfecting our work in the summer,” Bartlet said.
Ryals said the squad members are all anxious to learn before the school year starts.
“They’re all excited to see each other,” she said. “They want to get to work.”