An 8th-Grader’s Perspective Of JHS Marching band

From left, Katie Falkowsk, playing clarinet, and Abbey Nordwall, playing Sousaphone, are practicing a section of the Jamestown Red Raider Marching Band show. Submitted photo

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is third in a series by members of the Jamestown High School Red Raider Marching Band. So much work is done behind the scenes — planning, preparing, and practicing — that most people only see the finished project — the performance. JHS competes in New York State Field Band Conference shows leading up to the state championships in The Carrier Dome at Syracuse University Oct. 28.

I’m so tired!

My arms ache; my feet are killing me; my shoulders are no longer functioning, and my lips are swollen. But, I can’t wait to do “it” all again. “It” is being part of the Jamestown High School Red Raider Marching Band, an organization where we work hard to improve ourselves, our school, and our community.

When I first joined the band, I was worried about what the high school students would think about me since I am just an eighth grader. But my worries were diminished almost immediately after realizing that everyone there welcomed me with open arms and helped me whenever I needed help.

I remember after the first night of band practice, my squad leader sent a very welcoming text message that made me feel pretty great. However, despite all that support, I still felt unsure of myself. One morning, the wise Gary Kindberg addressed the band and made a statement that has stuck with me. He said, “No matter who you are, what grade you are in, whatever size or shape you are, or what religion you practice, or your race, you belong in this organization.” Mr. Kindberg’s words were meaningful, but deep down I knew I had to prove myself.

So, I worked hard to learn the music, learn the drills, and learn to march. I knew I was part of the band when I got the coveted nickname “KWACers” from “G.” Former and current band members understand that rite of passage.

As time passed, summer practices became more rigorous, leading to the infamous Intensive Week: five full days of practice and drill sets. Each day brought its own challenges, but working through those challenges paid off. Through those hard practices, memories were made, skills were sharpened, and our bodies and minds were made strong. On Thursday night, a large crowd was there to support our efforts and cheer us on for our preview show, which — although not perfect — was pretty darn good. By the end of Intensive Week, despite my sore muscles, blistered toes, and swollen mellophone lips, I realized it was all worth it. I felt like a Red Raider.

I feel most like a Red Raider when I’m with the mellophone squad. But now that school has started again, I spend my school days as the only French Horn player in the Washington Middle School Band. My friends at middle school are often frustrated with me because of how much I talk about marching band. But my spirits always brighten when I go to band practice at Strider Field to be with the other mellophones players.

These fellow musicians have been very patient and kind to me throughout this season by always helping me find where I am supposed to stand on the field, giving me praise when I do something well, and always giving me pep talks before and after competitions. They have even let me in on some of their traditions, such as the “Mellophone Handshake” and water jug stacking. The mellophone squad has accepted me as one of them, and that fact alone has made marching band so much better.

Being part of the marching band has taught me many lessons: responsibility, accountability, team spirit, and the pride that comes with being part of a group. Yes, it is demanding, and yes, it is exhausting, and yes, it is time consuming. But, do I love it?

Heck, yeah, I do!