By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
The Port Isabel Silver Tarpon Marching Band gave its first performance of the 2015 marching season last Friday night at Tarpon Stadium. The band took the field for the first time this year at halftime of the football team’s 31-19 win over the visiting Grulla Gators. All things considered, it was a good first outing.
The Press sought out Scott Hartsfield, head director of bands for the Port Isabel Independent School District, to get his thoughts on how this initial performance of the new show went off.
“They had a scary start at the beginning of the show but ended very strong,” Hartsfield said this week. “Every group is a little rough the first performance out. We felt pretty good about it. It was our first time on the field.”
Hartsfield was asked what he meant by ‘scary.’ “The start didn’t quite line up as we had hoped, but it was our first time on a grass football field. Those things happen every year.”
Percussionists were the first band members to report for practice back on June 29, and the band as a whole began to assemble for indoor practices two weeks later. Several weeks of grueling drill work in the main parking lot at the high school followed. Delays in the composition and delivery of the last of the music for an all-new show also had to be dealt with.
There was also the matter of breaking in a new drum major. That would be junior Derek Valdez and he also did well in his Friday night debut last week. “I think he’s doing great,” Hartsfield told the Press. “He’s a very, very strong drum major. The kids are buying in. They like what he’s doing and you can tell that the leadership is real strong on his part. He’s being a real good leader with the kids.”
As the self-described “Old Snare Drummer from Iowa” your Port Isabel High music reporter always has his eyes and ears directed toward the percussion section of the band, especially the snare drums. Hartsfield was hoping to put at least four of that instrument on the field this season.
“It looks like we’re going to have three snares this year,” Hartsfield said Tuesday. “We have one kid … she has some health issues right now. We’re hoping to get her back but, if not, we’ll end up using three.”
It’s an ongoing process, this business of heading up a high school marching band, requiring many hours of practice and hard work. “We’ll really know about where we’re at, probably about the third week of school,” Hartsfield said. “So next week is when things should really settle in.”
The band will make its first road trip this week, to Rio Grande City for Port Isabel’s game with the RGC Rattlers. Loading all that equipment into the 18-wheeler the band uses for road games and contests is a complicated job. The loading officer for the band is Bryan Palestinas. “Every group, every year, has a different set-up, has different props and different equipment that they’re using. So this first run is going to be figuring out where everything needs to be placed. Then it kind of starts to smooth itself out as the season goes.”
The Silver Tarpon Band will be on the road again for next week’s game at Hidalgo, and will return to Tarpon Stadium for the Valley View contest on Friday, Sept. 18.
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