One week's work: Youth marching band camp preps musicians for Festival parade

Marching band musicians perform in the 2011 Festival at Mount Si parade, the finale of a week-long marching band camp.  - Seth Truscott
Marching band musicians perform in the 2011 Festival at Mount Si parade, the finale of a week-long marching band camp.
— image credit: Seth Truscott

No parade is complete without a marching band, certainly not the Festival at Mount Si's grand parade set for 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 11. Each year, the week-old Snoqualmie Valley Youth Marching Band captures one of the coveted awards in the festival's parade judging, and then, its first and final performance complete, it dissolves for another year.

Since about 2003, sixth graders and older have had the opportunity to take a week-long marching band bootcamp at Mount Si High School. Mount Si doesn't have a marching band program, so this end-of-summer camp, led by Mount Si bandleader and music teacher Adam Rupert, is an opportunity for students to try something new.

"This is a fun week, doing something you don't get a chance to do during the school year," explains Rupert. Since the band's only gig is the parade at the end of the week, Rupert says, "there is no reason to have it last longer than that."

So on Monday, Aug. 6, students are invited to assemble at Mount Si High School to learn the basics of marching to music. The end result is "Fanfare, big numbers, loud noises, symmetry and recognizable melodies," Rupert says, all the things that people love about marching bands. Getting there will take some work.

"It's harder than you think," Rupert said, to walk in a straight line while playing an instrument and listening for instructions. Add to that moving your feet in time with the music, while keeping your row and column straight with the help of only your peripheral vision, and you have a challenge.

Between 35 and 50 students each summer take on that challenge and join the band camp. From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, they will learn the music and basic marching, and start developing their performance for Saturday.

"Once we know what our strengths and weaknesses are, we can begin to shape the routine," Rupert said. "It’s the highlight of the parade for us and we take that part very seriously."

Students interested in band camp should bring their instruments and sack lunches to the first day, along with the participation fee of $75. Also, Rupert says, "lots of energy."

That gets them the four-day marching band experience, parade entry, and a T-shirt. Also, if they continue their tradition, an award from the parade.


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