As the Cedar Shoals Classic City Sound marching band trots out to the student parking lot after school for another three hour practice in the excruciating September late afternoon Georgia heat to run through the program for 2018’s “Yearbook” themed performance, one group stands out.
More freshman than ever are part of the program, and this dynamic has students both excited for the future while sometimes frustrated with the present.
However, according to classmates and band director Dr. Zandra Bell McRoy, the freshman have been hard at work. Freshmen in the marching band have managed to keep a positive attitude at every game, showing a great deal of potential.
“It’s not stressful at all, to me it feels like I normally fit in this class. I only see 11 upperclassmen and the rest freshmen. This class has no type of pressure to me, except for the new music that’s way harder,” said Emma Rentz, freshmen.
While the freshman participation has been accepted, there are still some tensions with upperclassmen.
“They should listen to everything that Dr. Bell says, her rules and expectations. She has a lot to say, and it’s always helpful. She speaks from her heart at times. If they want to be a better player, then they shouldn’t be acting up in her class,” said Sandra Reyna, junior.
Overall, the size of the band has decreased from 100 students last year to 85 this year, with the majority being freshmen.
Cedar’s marching band is crucial to motivating the crowd and supporting Cedar’s athletics, and many freshmen have been marching with Cedar’s band since they were in eighth grade.
“We love to support the team. And really be out there just cheering our hearts out to them. If the crowd isn’t here for them, we’ll be here for sure. We’re on big family,” said Rentz.
The marching band is experiencing other adjustments with changes in leadership this year as well. Bell-McRoy has been band director at Cedar for three years, but this is her first year without an assistant teacher at her side.
“The workload has doubled. All of the responsibilities of music teaching and learning fall on me, and it is a daunting task at times,” said Bell-McRoy, who now teaches three full band classes as well as keyboarding in the morning. She sets clear expectations for her students in order to run a more efficient band.
“She’s very supportive and always keeps me and the rest on track. She pushes me to do my best to succeed, just not in this class but like my life and future,” said Reyna.
Dr. Bell-McRoy has been working hard to maintain the positive reputation of the award-winning Classic City Sound despite an increased workload and a particularly young group.
“If students feel that they are successful and the band is of quality, they will stay. We have done a really great job of retaining students over the past year, and I hope to continue that trend moving forward,” said Bell-McRoy.
Throughout the growing pains, upperclassmen have some wisdom to share with the freshmen.
“Always be prepared to not know what’s going on. In anything new you do, it’s going to be scary and confusing but if you just keep trying it’s going to be some of your best years of your life. The memories you make in marching band are irreplaceable, so don’t give up on it,” said Riley Hefner, a 2018 Cedar Shoals graduate and former band member.
“My advice to them is to listen and take advice from Dr. Bell. I’ve learned from personal experience of course,” said Lizbeth Pelera, sophomore.