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Practice makes perfect – True lives of Park Vista Performers

Park Vista Performers - Photo by Performer parent

Park Vista Performers - Photo by Performer parent

Annalise Wellman, Copy Editor

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With practice comes progress. With effort comes confidence. Since the beginning of marching band and color guard season (band camp begins in June), the Park Vista Performers work tirelessly in order to polish their act by holding four 12-hour practices a season and countless other practices after school or on weekends. I attended their last practice of the season in order to observe.

This was the day they left for the state championship.Tensions were high, but the Performers were confident. I could see it on their faces. They were ready, and they delivered.

“A lot of people think of this as just music, [but] these are athletes,” said Mr. Snipes, band director. He then joked about how some kids even lose weight by joining the band because of the various drills and exercises they do during practice. These practices are, most of the time, held in the student parking lot, dubbed the “tar pit”. There, the sun is hot and the air hangs thick. After just 15 minutes of standing still in the beating sun, I was already sweating.

This year, The Park Vista Performers created a production based of a post-apocalyptic time period where all trees are cut down except for one. It is called Despairadise.

“[The show is] not supposed to be interpreted one way. Like poetry, depending on the reader it’s different,” said David Klein, a senior band captain, as we ran with a group of five band students to retrieve the “pod” from under the bleachers of the football field for practice.

When he opened the gate underneath the bleachers, a giant green contraption was looming behind various other props and equipment. “[In the show, the pod] represents everything good in the world,” said Klein.

In addition to Despairidise, there are three other award-winning shows the performers put on: Redemption, Eternal and Exodus. Both Eternal and Exodus won first place at the state championships.

“This is not a less is more moment, this is a more is more moment,” said one band director from the crowd at their last practice of the season and last practice before the state championships. Competitions are the focal point of the of the performers’ season. This is where they display everything they have worked on, everything they have been critiquing and perfecting for months, in front of judges. They give it their all. One performer parent, Paul Janides (a.k.a Serge.), said that last year during Bands of America (BOA), the performers got off their bus, practiced all day and then drove straight to Atlanta. They ended up not seeing their hotel room until 9:30 at night.

The performers are so dedicated to their show, they even memorize their music and choreography by the page numbers. During practice, when one of the drum majors, Matthew Whitman, shouted out the page number and line number that needed to be played, the performers do exactly what he asks without even opening a choreography or music book. This means that on top of doing homework and studying for their academic classes, the students in the color guard and marching band are memorizing music, dance moves and critiques from their instructors.

“I don’t know any other high school students that can keep up their academics and activities like these students,” said Snipes.

“It is a culture,” said Snipes, “It’s a culture that you build the day you walk into the band.” With all the time and effort students devote to the marching band and color guard, they reap extensive benefits, far more than winning any competition or high rank: they gain a new family.

“They are always there no matter where you go and what you do, you will always have people having your back,” said sophomore Marcel Astacio Hernandez.

This new found family is one of the main reasons the performers are so successful. They are each other’s backbone. They are each other’s reason to give 100 percent during every practice so
they can step in front of judges and excel.

After they performed and won fourth place at BOA, Janides reminisced about some of the comments judges made about Park Vista’s performance.

“One judge even said ‘you can’t fake goosebumps,’” he said as he looked nostalgically at the rows of performers who were staring up at the drum major, waiting for
orders on what to do next.

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Practice makes perfect – True lives of Park Vista Performers