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Marching band performance assessment Saturday

Cape, Ida Baker, Island Coast, Mariner, North among schools competing

By MEGHAN BRADUBURY - | Oct 21, 2021

North Fort Myers High School Band Photo by Daniel Jeske

The community is invited to watch 15 bands compete during the Florida Band Masters Association District 18 Marching Performance Assessment Saturday at Lehigh Senior High School.

“Each band has been working on a halftime show since July,” Lehigh Senior High School Band Director Jay Parales said.

The Lehigh Golden Lightning Band is one of the 15 bands from Lee and Hendry County competing Saturday, Oct. 30, at Lehigh Senior High School. The gates open at 1 p.m. and the first band will perform at 3 p.m. The last band, the Golden Lightning Band, performs at 8:40 p.m. Admission is $8.

Bands participating in the competition include: Bishop Verot, Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Cypress Lake, Dunbar, East Lee, Estero, Fort Myers, Ida Baker, Island Coast, LaBelle, Lehigh, Mariner, North Fort Myers and Riverdale.

Judges listen and look for certain criteria during the minimum 5 to maximum 11 minute performance. The band is tasked with performing at its best ability to receive the top rating of superior. The remaining ratings include excellent, good, fair and poor.

The Golden Lightning Band has, in the past, consistently received a superior rating. With this rating, the band director purchases blue ribbons for the members with a medallion that says District Marching Superior.

“My band Pre-COVID went from 86 (members), to this year 55,” Parales said. “It’s been difficult, a real challenge the past two years.”

The band began practicing its performance, “Take to the Sky,” the last week of July. The music, which is about 6 1/2 minutes long will include “Fanfare to a New Era,” Lindbergh Variation” and “Learning to Fly.”

“It was a rough start because the kids really haven’t marched in two years. Freshmen and sophomores didn’t know how to march and play. The past week, or two it is really clicking together and they are getting the idea,” Parales said.

Practice has taken on a new level, as various different protocols have been put into place, when playing inside. If the band practices inside they have to wear instrument masks where there is a slit to put their mouth on the mouth piece. There are also socks that go over bells to reduce COVID particles.

“This is the new normal,” he said.

The Lehigh Golden Lightning Band is taking to a new process this year to recruit middle school students, as they are not able to host Middle School Band Night. Before, the Middle School Band Night would consist of inviting middle school students to a football game to share their experience, while feeding them and providing the student with a band T-shirt.

“No one in Lee County are allowed to do that because of social distancing,” Parales said.

So, this year, the band members are writing letters to the middle school students to communicate how much they enjoy band, as well as the perks of being on the marching band.

“It’s one of the few things we can think of in order to connect with these students,” Parales said.