Hartselle band, music camps prepare for fall
By Jacob Hatcher
For the Enquirer
As summer winds down and the new school year appears on the horizon, preparation for fall activities begins to ramp up in Hartselle. Part of those preparations are the Hartselle High School marching bands music and band camps, which have taken place the past two weeks. Last week auxiliary and percussion players for the band met every day in order to learn their parts for this year’s show, and the full band met three days from 8 a.m. until noon.
“It’s the first opportunity for me to hear what we’ve got this year,” says Hartselle City Schools director of bands Randall Key. “This is a really young group and we’re still coming out of the Covid dip just a little bit, but things are looking up for the program. The future’s looking very bright.”
While there are a lot younger musicians in this year’s band, Key says he is very encouraged by the progress that has been made and feels like they are farther along than they were last year.
“The only thing we really can’t help is that I’ve got nine seniors and over twenty-five rookies; so you’re looking at your balance of leadership and the scales are kind of tipped. So there will be a little bit of a learning curve for them. I figure the products are going to be really good, it may just take a little longer to get there.”
While music camp Week was primarily about learning the correct notes and getting the musicians comfortable with the pieces they will be playing, the week of band camp takes the music onto the field in order for the band to learn the steps of the drill and get the students comfortable.
“This is the heavy week for us. It takes a lot of time and repetition to where they’re comfortable with it,” Key said. “You’ve got to have some smart kids to be able to play an instrument, be able to read the music, be able to read the coordinate sheet, march this many steps in one direction, while still performing to the best of your ability musically.”
Key, who has spent twenty years as director of bands in Hartselle says he looks at directing bands in a similar way to football coaches leading and developing their teams.
“Football coaching and us, there’s not really any difference between us. They’ve got offense, defense, special teams. It’s the same thing for us; we have flute players, clarinet and trombone so there’s enough individual components that require the attention,” he said.
As far as motivation, Key feels those tactics are similar as well and it helps that the students really enjoy the competition aspect of marching band as well.
“The only difference is we don’t have a scoreboard on Friday night, in a literal fashion. Our scoreboard’s if we have good crowd response then we feel good about that. If we don’t, then maybe we’re not doing things to the best of our ability.
“I’ve got a great group of kids, an outstanding group of parents and booster organization. Our high school administration is very supportive of our band and that’s very important. We’re very pleased with the elements we have in place to be successful,” Key added. “Our motto is to be part of a winning tradition and we’ve done really well through the years for that. I’m just really pleased with what we have so far.”