From left, Junior Daniel Jones, sophomore Jacob Geiger, junior Taylor Cavaliere and freshman Jeremy Bertisch stand at attention during recent practice session. The 67-piece East Lake High School marching band has been practicing in the school parking lot to replicate the streets they will march on May 26 in Washington, D.C.
Marching band rehearsal is a lesson in walking. Even the difference between the grass of a football field and the concrete of a street changes everything. So the East Lake High School marching band has to learn to walk again.
On May 26, 67 students will perform in the National Memorial Day Parade on Historic Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C.
Last January, East Lake marching band director John Fulton was invited to apply with Music Celebrations International, based on their straight superior ranking at a recent marching band festival. He sent in the application along with references and a DVD of a performance, and in July, received an official invitation to represent the state of Florida in the Memorial Day Parade.
“It’s validation that we’re doing the right thing,” Fulton said in February.
Now, in the final few weeks before they leave for Washington, D.C., the students have taken to the parking lot in front of the high school, practicing staying in straight lines while keeping pace with their classmates.
“You have to use your peripheral vision,” shouted Drum Major Kelli Yeazell above the music.
It looks hard, during rehearsal. A group of high school students trying to keep time and march straight and play beautiful music. But by Memorial Day, it will be a rote memory.
Beyond the logistics of tempo and left-right stepping (not right-left), Fulton reminded his students of the importance of the parade.
“Let’s not lose sight of the fact that we’re representing our families, our community and our school,” he said.