By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
When anyone who has ever watched a marching band in action is asked to think of a marching band instrument, it’s probably going to be a brass or percussion piece. As the self-professed “Old Snare Drummer from Iowa” I myself, am naturally biased toward the snare drummers. I love them. But any statements, implied or specific, around the band halls of Port Isabel High School that the woodwind section is the least important part of the Silver Tarpon Marching Band would be greeted with polite protests, such as, ‘Sir, I don’t think so!’ And rightfully so.
The Silver Tarpon Band has more than its share of excellent clarinet, flute and saxophone players who all contribute a great deal to the sound of this instrumental aggregation.
Sophomore band member Rosa Guerrero has been playing the flute since the 6th grade. She gladly takes the time not only to work on her individual part of the marching show but also does whatever she can to help the freshmen newcomers.
“It means a bunch of responsibility,” Guerrero said this week. “(It’s about) teaching other students how to march … the fundamentals. If they’re confused about certain things we’ll show them how to finger a note, how to march correctly, fix your posture.”
Junior clarinet player Abigail Cisneros echoes the sentiment; “I just correct their skills if I see they’re doing it wrong, or if they need help. We just started combining yesterday with the freshmen and upper-classmen. The freshmen have been practicing on their own.”
Senior Lacey Segars plays the alto saxophone and she, as all the upper-classmen are expected to do, helps the first-year band members along. “I just remember how I was and I try to help them settle in and help them along. A lot of them aren’t used to working so hard and (they) want to give up, like it’s too much work. So we encourage them to stick with it.”
Giving up large parts of one’s summer vacation is part of the deal, and Segars remembers how differently she felt about that part of the summer band experience several years ago. “Honestly, my freshman year I wasn’t looking forward to it. It’s all worth it and I guess I’ve learned, more and more, as each year has gone by, that we need to do this. And it’s great because we get to meet everybody and come together as a family before school even starts. So this year I was looking forward to it.”
A well-organized group of student officers also helps the whole process along. Each class elects a student representative and the band as a whole elects a student president and vice-president. There is also an historian, librarian, uniform staff and loading crew captain.
“They all have their individual responsibilities,” head director Scott Hartsfield said. “They’re doing a real good job at this point.”
This year’s Silver Tarpon Band President is senior Juan Cruz. “My duties are to look after the band as a whole, to make sure they have a voice with the band directors.”
Cruz thinks the band is in a very good place right now, “Everybody’s working hard outside. We can see the energy in everybody. People are getting excited – you can hear it in the music.”
And all of this is not to mention the highly capable staff of assistant directors Hartsfield enjoys. Hartsfield is ultimately responsible for everything band-related, but authority is delegated and specific areas of responsibility are assigned. It didn’t use to be this way.
“Before I did it all,” Hartsfield said this week. “I did all the fundamentals outside, I did all the music inside, and my staff was in both places.”
This year Hernandez, for example, is outside working with the band on marching fundamentals while Hartsfield is inside, “doing all the administrative things, (lining up) the charter buses, the football games, meals, all that stuff. It’s just going really well. I have a great staff with me. They know the expectations.”
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