Freshmen and newcomers got to experience full band rehearsals in double sessions last week, as Director of Bands Tom Ruggieri and Assistant Director Tim Tuite helped lead the 190 members of the 2013 Spartan Marching band in their formations.
When asked how he gets such a large number of kids, Ruggieri said cooperation is the key.
"We share kids with the sports coaches," he said. "While band is a full year and credited course, sports are what kids would choose if given a choice. By working with coaches and sharing the kids' time, we are able to give them both."
Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
BHS marching band trumpet players, senior Tyler Grzyb, junior Kyle Emery, sophomore Mike Mitchum and senior Jon Lizotte practice their steps as the full band started practice last month.
He said an example is soccer. A couple of band members play on the soccer team. Those kids spend two hours with their sport, then come over to band for two hours to practice.
Ruggieri doesn't change the routine so much that the kids have to learn all over each year. He keeps a lot of the routines the same, or traditional, from year to year so the older kids can easily help the newer band members adjust quickly.
"For over 30 years, our run-on and Fanfare to the Common Man has been our tradition," Ruggieri said. "It's all based on the Emerson, Lake and Palmer rock version."
Another way Ruggieri makes life easy is by having squads of four. In any lineup, there will be a veteran band member next to a newcomer to help him or her make a quick adjustment, so the entire band is stepping in unison.
The band has been practicing hard and had their first performance at Howland Band Night on Tuesday, Aug. 20. Just prior to that opener, the entire band spent a week at band camp in Erie, Pa.
"The one thing that gives us an edge is band camp," he said. "Not many schools attend band camp anymore, but I feel it is a great opportunity."
At band camp, the week is full with four practice sessions each day. There are breaks to eat and a little free time, but for the most part it is a week of nothing but band practice from sun up to sun down.
"It is very intensive and rigorous," Ruggieri said. But the week isn't without its fun with a dance and the annual Senior Auction.
The camp will give the band members a chance to work on their new music that is added into the performance for 2013-14. Ruggieri said this year he is incorporating a Styx medley into the halftime performance. The band will perform at Austintown Fitch's band night on Monday, Aug. 26 then Canfield's Show of Bands on Tuesday, Aug. 27. Boardman will host its own band night at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7 at Spartan Stadium.