Photo by /Voice Staff Arundhati Prasanth
Two days a week after school and Saturdays, close to 100 MHS students come together in a loose confederation of band devotees, all intent on the same thing, perfecting their craft. Although Mr. McGuire, MHS class of 2002 and band director since 2013, would like to see students in straight rows practicing their marching technique, very often he is faced with giggly teens wrapped up in their latest drama.
In no small part due to Mr. McGuire’s dedication and patience, the MHS band has been to, and thrived at, multiple marching competitions, festivals and even performed on Main Street of Disney World in 2017. Though most students do it for the joy, success doesn’t come without its struggles and kids usually practice between 21-30 hours a week. In spite of this, band kids report loving band, and talk about the awesome culture. “We create energy and play it off each other- it creates a bond that is almost like family,” explained Senior Adam Corlito. Sophomore Sydney Ten Eyck agreed, “I feel welcome there- Even if you suck, no one cares.”
The MHS band has seen drastic changes since the 2000’s when the school operated on a five period schedule. Lots of kids who wanted to be in band didn’t have room for it in their schedule, so evening rehearsals were required once a week. Back then marching band primarily played in NESBA, the band version of the Hockomock League, but for the last three years they have moved into a larger regional grouping.
To some it may seem as if band is all work. Competition days for marching bands consist of 2-5 hour practices starting from 7-10 am followed a 1-3 hour break period for lunch, packing up of instruments and props materials. After that the band drives to wherever the competition is being held. Senior Thomas Rozelle points to the hard work as gratifying. “Mr.McGuire has taught us to get better, and to help each other get better. That’s why we’re here.”
In the end the MHS band is a happy group. Students’ love of their instrument, the drive of competition and the unique culture keeps them coming back like coffee addicts on a Monday morning at Dunkin. Each year they form a cohesive unit of talented students into a loving, albeit dysfunctional at times, family. Through band students can find friends to last well into adulthood.