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Band, color guard endure their own 'hell week'

Saugus High School students spend five days learning routines

Posted: August 9, 2009 9:00 p.m.
Updated: August 10, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Saugus senior Heather Weber of the color guard carries the "orb" as she rehearses with the band for hell week on Friday.

 
Bob Gibson stood in the middle of the football field at Saugus High School under an unusually cool summer sky.

The phrase "Heel toe! Heel toe!" echoed through the field on the Friday morning as Gibson, the school's band director, walked through the rows of nearly 100 Saugus High School band and color guard students.

The rhythm of drums and xylophones played from "the pit" - the area of the band students who have instruments too big to navigate on the field.

Band alumni and volunteers holding binders focused on groups of students, ranging from percussion to color guard, watching their every move and correcting each misstep.

The students spread over the field, ready for another run-through of their drill, this year's eight-minute performance.

It was "hell week" for the Saugus High School band and color guard. The students gathered the last week before school started to spend five days learning the routine of a performance that will take then through the entire band season.

While the students received the music over the summer, last week meant learning an entire drill while playing an instrument.

Saugus High School's band camp wrapped up Friday afternoon with a performance of this year's show to about 300 parents, alumni and supporters, Gibson said.

The name of this year's presentation is "Journey of Delight: The Music of Cirque du Soleil," Gibson said.

The piece will be used through the upcoming band season, including at six home football games, special performances throughout the community and a series of Saturday competitions, Gibson said.

The first public performance is slated for Sept. 17 at Saugus's first home football game.

The intense training is common for returning students.

But learning an entire routine in a week proves to be a challenge for the incoming freshmen.

"It's culture shock to them," Gibson said.

Freshman Amanda Weber, 14, took part in the two-week band camp for the first time.

The color guard routine is tough, but she knew what was coming.

"I'm pretty OK because my sister told me about it," she said.

So far, Amanda enjoys tossing the flags in the air as part of the performance.

But even when practice ends, color guard follows her.

"I think of my mistakes and how to fix them and what I did good," she said.

For seniors Kyle Smith and Marina Borggrebe, both 17, "You learn something new every day," said Marina, who leads color guard.

Kyle enjoys the connection to music.

"Music is just a lot of fun for me," said the drum major.

Despite all the hours practicing their instruments and routines, Kyle and Marina agreed that the public just might never understand how much time is spent on an eight-minute performance.

"We come out on the field and it's just there," Kyle said. "Nobody knows how it got there."

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