Brandywine band benefits from increased participation, adds marching bandPublished 10:19am Friday, August 8, 2014
Around two dozen high school students dressed in everything from shorts to jeans to tank tops marched in formation Wednesday morning on the Brandywine practice field.
Many held paper notebooks folded to resemble instruments in front of their faces as a speaker blared music nearby.
All kept their backs as straight as possible.
Band instructor Ruth Livengood watched it all with interest from the sideline.
“Very good,” she told the marching band. “Now let’s do it one more time.”
Three years ago, this scene wasn’t even a possibility at Brandywine.
When Livengood took the job as band instructor in the summer of 2012, the school did not have a true marching band. The 11 students in the program at that time just stood in place as they played their music.
“That’s not what everybody else does — it was kind of like pretending to be a marching band, but not,” Livengood said.
Today, the high school band program not only has a real marching band, it is benefitting from a huge increase in participation.
Livengood said they have 38 students — up from 24 the year before when she reinstated the marching band.
“It makes me happy to see that we are growing and to know that the students get to benefit from a whole band experience like other schools do,” Livengood said. “Our goal is to keep the numbers growing, keep the quality improving and keep band alive at Brandwyine.”
Brandywine senior Hallie Carnes has been in the band since the fifth grade, so she has been able to witness the growth first hand.
She said it has resulted in more friendships, in addition to a better all-around band.
“We all feed off each other and encourage one another the best we can,” said Carnes, a drum major. “For being in our second year marching, they are doing so well and improving every day.”
Livengood attributes the growth to several factors, including a focus on creating a positive atmosphere at band, the addition of the marching band program and increased support from the administration.
Carnes said younger students are noticing the difference.
“I think that has had an impact on some people, especially middle schoolers and incoming freshmen,” she said. “They see how cool band can be, how hard we work and the results we get from that.”
Ravyn Hardy joined the band for the first time this year after her mom got her a flute for Christmas.
“It is really fun. You get to play music and meet a bunch of people you haven’t met before,” she said. “I also get a chance to take it with me to college.”
The majority of the high school band, Livengood said, is made up of underclassmen. As long as they stay in the program, she sees good things for the future of band at Brandywine.
“I know a lot of people write us off because we are a smaller district, but there are a lot of outstanding students out here and they have a great work ethic,” Livengood said. “We want to build on this momentum.”
The marching band will perform at 5 p.m. today at the Brandywine High School football field. It is the band’s end-of-band-camp performance.
Band camp, which began Monday, is the time when students learn the marches they will perform during halftime of all home football games.
She encouraged the public to come to Friday’s performance.
“It is to show people what we learned at camp.” she said. “It isn’t a polished show, but it shows all we learned and what we are working toward.”