Apex Band Marches On

By Isabel Terret and Sydney Brown

*If you’re interested in listening to the songs in this year’s show, please see the image in the header!

A few things may come to mind when thinking about marching band: Spongebob, My Chemical Romance, “Montero” by Lil Nas X – but what actually is marching band?

According to Mr. Jarvis, Band Director at Apex High School, marching band is a student involved group that combines music and visual movement to create a show. Most of the students involved in concert band at Apex are also involved in our school’s marching band. It provides a great opportunity for students to meet new people, play music, and compete against other bands. The music played contributes to a general show theme that is decided by Mr. Jarvis. While the general ideas are drafted by Mr. Jarvis, more specific details are decided by the drill and music writers that he hires. 

This year’s show theme is “Joy, Love, Peace, Hope” which was created with the intention of highlighting and appreciating those different factors in our daily lives. Mr. Jarvis said he “wanted to celebrate those things, especially after the pandemic, because they are what makes life special, fun, enjoyable, and meaningful.” 

COVID left a lasting impression on all sorts of school extracurriculars, and marching band was no exception. Mr. Jarvis stated, “COVID has affected our marching band pretty substantially. It has changed how the band has rehearsed, sometimes students have to wear face masks/bell coverings depending on county mandates.” The pandemic has also affected meetings, sectionals, as well as different events that are a staple of the marching band experience, such as the band picnic or BOCO (the band’s version of homecoming).

Despite all of these difficulties and navigating through a “new normal,” marching band has persevered and is ready for the rest of the season with the help of all different kinds of people. New participating members, student leadership, and the parent volunteers that make up the Band Boosters have all contributed to the success of this new season.

Most of what is seen of marching band involves the students who participate but the parent volunteers build the foundation that the band runs on. The Band Boosters are an organization that help with logistical tasks that include chaperoning, fundraising, along with travel and communications. There’s a large amount of behind the scenes work that goes into making sure the marching band can run smoothly throughout the season.

Mrs. Rasp, the marching band’s uniform chairperson and the longest parent volunteer, spoke to us about some of the behind-the-scenes that goes into making sure things run smoothly. Mrs. Rasp handles all of the specific details pertaining to uniforms, whether it’s fitting them to students, changing the inserts, or even fitting dinkles, the shoes marchers wear while in uniform.

Uniforms are only one part of the Band Boosters: they also handle most of the financial decisions of the band – including hiring specific teachers to help the marching band. Mr. Jarvis describes, “Band Boosters pay local professionals to teach specific instruments and colorguard to our students.” These professionals help specific sections during band camp, but percussion and color guard do rigorous practice with their respective instructors throughout the season. 

One of these instructors is Matt Savage, who works with the drumline. According to Ace Coffel, Drum Captain and Section Leader, the drumline works with Mr. Savage once a week away from the band. Mr. Savage also worked with them on their marching technique, which differs from the rest of the band’s.

Marching band requires hard work and dedication and as a result, many memorable moments are developed. When asked about his favorite part of marching band Ace described, “Winning Grand Champion at Western Alamance two years ago.” Grand Champion is an award presented to the highest scoring band at a marching competition, so receiving the trophy in 2019 is a core memory for many of the Apex Marching Band seniors and juniors.

Mrs. Rasp enjoys being able to relive her experiences in the marching band as a volunteer during 2019-2021 versus 2006-2010, when she volunteered previously. The homecoming parade is a specific memory that comes to mind for her, saying “I go through a time loop like when you guys are going through something like the homecoming parade, I’ll flash back to the last time I did the homecoming parade…as I’m living through the new memory.”

Mr. Jarvis has a plethora of memories from marching band, having marched in both high school and college. However, his favorite memories involve the seniors of the band. “I always enjoy every senior night…and then whatever happens to be the last competition…I make it a point to try to make those two days as special for the seniors as we can. But having the seniors, you know, enjoy the last football game or competition and seeing the smiles on their faces, that’s probably my biggest highlight.”

Remember that as marching band practices continue through October, please move your cars off the top parking deck!

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