SPRING LAKE TWP. — As band members worked on their marching technique, senior drum major Cameron Parsons kept time with a steady beat for them to follow.
Throughout the evening, Spring Lake High School students practiced their music and formations for their “Elevation”-themed show for the 2019 season. The band has been rehearsing since July, while the Color Guard and drumline have been at it throughout the summer break.
Having been in band since fifth grade, Parsons, now 18, said everyone grows closer together through the years and they develop deeper connections.
“I felt like I grew a family,” he said.
Grace Kleppe, 15, said she joined the band because she always loved music and felt too shy. So it has been the relationships formed with fellow band members going into her freshman year that helped a then-nervous Kleppe have a smoother transition into high school. Now a sophomore, she said the trumpet section had get-togethers and formed friendships.
Joining the Color Guard during her freshman year gave Emily Attenberger a place where she said she feels like she fits in.
“It’s a great way to express yourself,” the 16-year-old said.
The 160-member SLHS band learns one main show for the season, which this year includes five songs.
Memorizing the choreography and learning the marching in general was a challenge at first, said senior Elliot Carlson, who plays the mellophone.
When a mistake is made, it can be challenging to keep going and to avoid trying to correct it, because that could lead to making the mistake more noticeable, said senior Clayton Glasgow. Learning to continue despite a mistake is something they also practice during rehearsals, said Glasgow, who is on the drumline.
Kleppe, who is also in theater, said performing on the field is similar to being on the stage — but “10 times that.”
Kleppe recalled looking into the stands during a show last season.
“It felt so impactful,” she said.
Following some of their performances, Attenberger said she’s seen people crying. She said it is like there’s something magical about being able to perform and evoke that kind of emotion.
Highlights from Spring Lake’s 2018 marching band season include earning first place in Class B at the Grand Haven, Grandville, Kenowa Hills and Kentwood invitationals.
Glasgow said that although complacency can come with continued success, they know they have to earn it and they continue to improve.
In preparing for the new season, band director Mike Truszkowski said they hope to have an exciting presentation audiences will enjoy.
“We hope to put together an exciting presentation that will be enjoyed by our home crowds and the invitational crowds,” he said. “We’re striving for continual improvement and consistency.”
Learning teamwork, enjoying performing and being confident are among the things Truszkowski said they hope the band students gain from the experience.
“We want them to feel valued as a person as well as a performer by their classmates,” he said.
Glasgow said one of the things he’s most enjoyed is seeing the show come together by the end of the season, becoming “one fluid motion.” Attenberger said the show coming together is something they can be proud of when they’re done.
The Lakers band will perform at all home football games, and they will also take to the field during the Rockford, Kenowa Hills, Grandville and Kentwood invitationals. Truszkowski noted they won’t be in the Grand Haven invitational this season because it’s the same evening as Spring Lake’s Homecoming dance.