INDIANAPOLIS — Frankton Jr.-Sr. High School’s Marching Eagles are a relatively young band with between 50 and 60% newcomers, compared to 30% for most high school bands.
That presents some special challenges, such as teaching etiquette, for director Eric Bailey, who has been faced with rebuilding the band over the past couple of years.
“Everything is a first-time experience," he said. "That means learning and getting better takes that much longer because you don’t have anything to build on,” he said. “With a band this young and a program that’s rebuilding, the things other bands take for granted don’t exist.”
That makes exposure of the band to competitions, such as Band Day, important, Bailey said. That’s where students learn some of the nuance that eventually will allow them to break into the top 16.
Though the number of student-musicians has remained relatively steady at 20, their composition has changed a little — which means a lot to a small band, Bailey said.
“I have more in the horn line. I have a much smaller color guard,” he said.
Clarinetist Jewell Cline is one of the new eighth graders who is trying to rebuild the band program.
“I picked the clarinet because my mom played the clarinet when she was at Highland. She wanted to play the bagpipes, but she never got promoted,” she said.
Like her mother, Jewell has dreams of advancement to first clarinet. Starting band as a sixth grader, Jewell said her greatest challenge is reaching the upper registers of her clarinet.
“You have to keep your mouth in a certain position, and you have to blow fast air, too,” she said. “If you think ‘key’ while you play the upper register key, it will sound better.”