Sounding the Trumpets for a New Season

Delaney Bolstein, Co-Editor/Director of Media

A few years back, Lake Highland bade farewell to the marching band and announced the introduction of the pep band. Like the marching band, pep band provides musical entertainment for football games and mimics the victories of the game itself, through driving rhythms and pounding beats. Coco Nevill, grade 12, explains, “pep band is different from marching band because marching band requires movement and music; it is about performing and presenting movement through music. Pep band is more about playing music that gets the football team and fans excited and passionate about the game.” Playing in a tent on the track to shield out rain, they, alongside the cheer and football teams, garner a sense of school spirit and set the scene for a quintessentially American high school experience.

Learning an instrument is hard. Band members have to memorize notes, keys, and tempo. They have to figure out how to hear their instrument through a cacophony of sound and go with the rhythm, rather than the time. For students in pep band, however, they have to do all of this while a rowdy football game goes on in front of them. The music pep band plays for the games varies. Of course the classic, “Fight Song,” makes an appearance alongside the cheerleaders as per tradition. Still, like the drones that fly
overhead the field to capture the frantic crowd during a play, pep band tries to incorporate old and new. Josh Weiner, grade 12, notes, “No pop tunes are the first that come to mind. Personally, I dig into old pop tunes from when I was a kid. Also, many loud tunes that are popular today also work. Short, loud bursts of energy always do the trick! Once the music is found we look for a
composed piece that we can play with our band.” The goal of the pep band is to try to amp up the energy during football games. Josh is the one playing the trumpet when the crowd goes wild, mimicking and heightening their excitement.

Preparing for a football game is not much different than any other sport. Pep band members have to practice tirelessly, beginning at 7:15 A.M. every morning. Getting up before sunrise, members and the band director, Mr. Fray Peralta, work through the decided-upon music and try to figure out what works and what does not. Band has a lot of moving parts. There is the
brass section, the rhythm instruments, and Middle Schoolers to keep track of. Coco adds, “The most important thing is organization. When dealing with grades 5-12, things can get very chaotic in the band room. It is very important to organize your music, and section and keep track of your responsibilities and schedule for the night.” To aid with this, Mr. Peralta has the help of two assistants who break up the different sections during practice.

Weather also plays a huge role in pep band. For Aspen Glickman, grade 10, the most challenging part of pep band is, “Dealing with the weather. Almost every football game we play at gets rained on. We have to take care of our instruments and music to make sure they don’t get damaged. Standing for the entire game is also very tiring.” Unlike football players and cheerleaders, band members do not have the luxury of hiding in a locker room until the rain passes. They have to tough it out alongside their instruments and teammates.

Still, it is in the rain where pep band members are able to build bonds through their misery. “My favorite memories from the band always come when the game gets rained out or is raining. Those moments are so chaotic because we never know when the game will start, [or] when the rain will end so getting to just enjoy the rain with your friends and bond together is always a really good time,” Coco recounts. Pep band’s meager tent is no match for thunderstorms. It sways and gets pounded upon by rain, but amidst this suffering, band members build connections and share struggles with each other.

Pep band’s final way to prepare for a game comes in the form of good luck charms. Like football players, Josh’s charm is, “Tapping the top of the door before leaving the band room.” Coco cites, “A pair of sticks that was given to me by the previous drumline’s captain, Jenna Youngman. Those sticks remind me to constantly work harder, be a leader, and to make sure I am
still having fun.” Pep band requires a mix of practice and luck. Members have to adapt to both the nuances of playing an instrument and the woes and wins of the game. They need to love music to withstand it. Coco, who celebrates her seventh year in band, learned, “That I genuinely have a passion and love for music. I love getting together with the younger kids, Middle
Schoolers, and kids my age and performing fun music not just for ourselves but for an audience.” Pep band, amidst deafening practices and thunderstorms, creates a family.

(Above) Allam Murillo Gonzalez, grade 11, discusses the newly chosen song for jazz band. Nearly all pep band members are a part of regular band, pep band, and jazz band. These extracurriculars allow members to build a sense of family. Photo by Delaney Bolstein. (Photo by Delaney Bolstein.)
(Above) Most pep band practices consist of two groups: the brass section (trumpets, saxophones, and trombones) and the rhythm section (guitars, pianos, and drums). Mr. Fray Peralta, along with his two assistants, jump between the two sections to make sure
everything sounds cohesive. Photo by Delaney Bolstein. (Photo by Delaney Bolstein.)
(Above) Elisa Davis, grade 11, teaches RJ Triozzi, grade 11, how to play a jazz piece on the guitar. Like many other band members, RJ knows how to play other instruments. However, unlike the others, RJ’s voice is featured on Harlem musician, Cab Calloway’s song, “Minnie the Moocher.” Photo by Delaney Bolstein. (Photo by Delaney Bolstein.)