It’s more than a band – it’s a family


Photo by Camden Cohn

The Lincoln East Varsity Marching Band performs their show, Boy Band Legacy, for halftime at a football game.

As another year of band camp started, students and directors alike hoped for everything to be normal, but that sadly wasn’t the case. In a year plagued by tragedies, restrictions, and learning/teaching moments, marching band is just like everything else: different.
Before marching band season had even started, back in the last week of July, things had already changed in unexpected ways. The cancellation of the 4th quarter delayed the leadership selection process. Students didn’t know who was on leadership until a week before camp.
Thorpe and the other directors had to wait to get approval from the district to set a deadline on the leadership application, so nothing could be done until they gave approval. Now in his 13th year teaching at East (20th overall), this year was described by Thorpe as, “definitely the weirdest year so far.” With all of the protocols in place and things changing from week to week, the uncertainty of this year has been high from the beginning.
“I don’t know if the students know how it almost didn’t happen,” Thorpe said. “How close it was to not happening. So yeah, we’re very lucky for that.” A week or so before band camp started, Mr. Thorpe, Ms. Shively, and Mr. Layher had a meeting with all of the LPS band directors to decide whether or not they wanted to have band camps at all. “And luckily the dial didn’t go up farther than we could handle.”
After a very reduced band camp, which included shortened practice sessions and only one day together as a full band, nobody really knew how the show would end up. The show this year is laid back, with less sets and easier music, but still very fun. The show has a Boy Bands theme that includes “Drag Me Down” by One Direction, “I Want It That Way” by Backstreet Boys, “Bye Bye Bye” by NSYNC, and “Sucker” by the Jonas Brothers. Even with only one public performance (besides football games) this year on October 10th for the LPS showcase, students still bought in and are putting in effort on a daily basis to make the show the best it can be.
Although the chances for the season to be successful were slim, everyone involved has done a great job of making it work. “The saving grace has been those Wednesday rehearsals at Seacrest. Without that it’d be a nightmare. So the students have handled it really well,” Mr. Thorpe said.
With things changing on a weekly basis and having to remember way more things this year, such as wearing masks, staying distant at games and rehearsal, etc. it has been a lot for everyone to deal with. Then on top of that, to have to learn a whole show. Most people would crumble under those expectations. “… I think we’re ahead of where I thought we’d be really. I thought it would be a struggle to get even halfway through a show, just things going slower and learning drill slower, but it’s been going really well, so I’m pleased,” Mr. Thorpe said.
Mr. Thorpe also talked about how proud he is of the way students have handled this year. “So that’s what I really like, is to see how excited people are to be back even though it’s A and B and you’re only seeing half the band, except for football games and Wednesdays. It’s cool to see everybody connecting again.” Students really appreciate the time they get to spend with kids in the other group that they don’t get to see besides those Wednesday mornings and games. Those rehearsals at Seacrest also give the band around an hour to practice together, which is helpful.
Talking to Jason Manzitto, a senior and a Drum Major, he said “… it’s a little underwhelming compared to what it would normally be, but it’s still like we’re doing it, and we have our instruments and we’re marching and yeah that part is still there, it’s just different.” While this season is unlike anything experienced before, seeing the work put in daily by everyone is awesome to see. “I’m pretty proud of the teachers and everyone for stepping up and being responsible and safe and wearing their masks and just doing everything we can to make sure that it’s as safe as possible.”
The A/B split has been tougher for freshmen band members than it has been for upperclassmen. The class isn’t split up evenly, so learning music, drill, etc. is a challenge. And not getting to see upperclassmen besides at football games is tough. Even with all of this they are still doing an amazing job. “… they don’t have an idea of what marching band is supposed to be like without coronavirus, or any activity or school in general, they’re just thrown into it headfirst. And I think that they’ve done a really good job of being attentive and working hard and learning,” Jason Manzitto said.
The best word to describe the Lincoln East Marching band is resilient. Even with all of the changes, restrictions, new rules, etc. this group came in from day one ready to work. This is what makes this band one of the best high school groups in the state. Each person loves marching band so much and comes in each and every morning and gets to work. The marching band doesn’t get the attention or recognition that they deserve. Although, it really is more about the band to them. It’s about building friendships that will last for a lifetime. It’s more than a band, it’s a family. The collection of people that care about each other and have built a strong bond that continues to strengthen, especially with everything that has happened this year.