Marching Band Works To Stay In Step

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During a march around the hot parking lot at Payson High School, Larry Potvin corrected the postures of students as they tried to step in synch with one another.

"The most difficult thing for marching band students to learn is to combine a quality concert performance while marching in a very intricate design," PHS' band leader of eight years Potvin said.

The committed students of Payson High School's marching band met in the classroom and on the asphalt the week of July 18 for band camp.

"Staying in step, staying in line and not letting down your peers," are the hardest skills for junior Shiloh Turner to master. Turner, who plays the flute, has been in the band for the past three years. "... Everyone is counting on you," she said.

In less than a month, donning instruments and all the pomp and circumstance of August Doins', the marching band must be ready to follow the 1.6 miles of the rodeo parade's route.

Potvin, a 23-year marching band teacher veteran, said he's allowing the students to wear camel packs full of water as long as they're hidden underneath their polyester-blend uniforms.

The time it can take for a band to unify varies, but this year's marching band is already starting to gel Potvin said.

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Heather Barnett, Andrew Weatherly and Chad Lammers step in time with marching drills. The band will perform at the Longhorn's first home game, Sept. 16.

He attributes its cohesion to the older students of the group like drum majors Ammon Carter, a junior, and Dustin Bellah, a senior.

They are Potvin's right hands. Besides a keen sense of direction and the ability to keep the beat, drum majors must be good leaders.

Carter and Bellah tell the band what to do with specific commands, which are practiced over and over again until perfect.

Forward Harch means stepping offline on the fourth beat, beginning a forward march with the left foot; Right Turn Harch tells band members to turn right while marching in place and turning to a specified number of counts. The brass section snaps their instruments into place on Band Horns Up.

Gradually these small concepts are combined until every member of the teams has memorized the marches that accompany particular tunes and commands.

"We conduct and lead the band during half time shows and parades," Carter said.

Bellah, who also plays the tuba said he became a "student leader of the group" because last year's drum majors graduated.

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Sara DeWitt, Ciara Wholly and Rex de Roulhac prepare for the rodeo parade, 9 a.m., Aug. 20.

Potvin said the Longhorn band doesn't compete as often as he would like.

"The modified school year has messed up my program and some other," Potvin said, "However, we will be able to participate at some festivals and try to qualify for the state marching festival."

Still, he said, he loves the music, the excitement and watching my students become leaders.

"Music is a lifelong skill that will help them become very successful people," Potvin said.

Potvin said the Mogollon Sporting Association has helped the music department with donations for uniforms and other instruments. Meanwhile, fund-raisers are in the planning stages to help update instruments and equipment.

The school paid about $325 a piece for the uniforms about 10 years ago Potvin said.

While bands marching have escorted parades since the 17th century, the marriage of bands and sports happened sometime during the following century.

"What a great idea it was to put bands and football together on a Friday night with a fall chill in the air," said Potvin.

The band will play at the Longhorns' first home football game Sept. 16.

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