Three-day camp helps marching band to grand championship

This article submitted by Michael Jacobson on 6/16/99.

Marching band It's practice that makes perfect, and the Paynesville Area Marching Band was in fine form after a three-day band camp at the high school last week. In their first parade of the season, the marching band was chosen as grand champion in Buffalo Saturday night.

As the winning bands were announced at the awards ceremony following the parade, the Paynesville contingent felt an initial let down when the band wasn't first or second in their division. However, Joe Halvorson won the award for best drum major and the Paynesville color guard earned top honors.

Park Center was chosen for having the best drum line, before the Paynesville band was awarded the grand championship.

From Monday to Wednesday, June 7-9, nearly 100 members of the band practiced in the school parking lots, the school halls, and the streets of the Chladek Addition. Camp began at 8 a.m. and lasted until 7:30 p.m. each day.

"We're working on perfecting the performance," said director Bryan Mara, "because we're judged on every little thing: everybody's feet being together at the same time, their overall body carriage, their instrument angle."

The weather for band camp started fine before the rain came. Monday was perfect for practicing outside. Storms disrupted the camp on the last two days, forcing the band to practice inside on Tuesday morning and limiting practice Wednesday afternoon.

The weather, however, cleared for a dress rehearsal performance along the west driveway of the high school on Wednesday evening. Parents and supporters lined the driveway to hear the band's routine.

After the rehearsal, the band opted to march back to the band room, a move that Mara described to the audience as exhibiting teamwork. "I couldn't believe ...they decided to march back instead of walk back," Mara said later, "which I thought was pretty neat."

Helping Mara with the band are: Ken Vork, assistant director; Allen Murphy and Sara Wageman, color guard; Jeremy White, drum line; and Maria Wegner, honor guard. Student leaders are: Joe Halvorson, drum major; Krysta Larson, color guard captain; and Bridget Mueller, drum line captain.

For music, the band will be playing "Jupiter" by Gustav Holst. Mara designed the marching routine. The color guard routine was choreographed by Murphy, with the ballet dancing choreographed by Colleen Peyerl. The cadence was cowritten by White and Jeremy Schreifels.

Mara said the band's music and routine are more challenging this year. The band also has a large number of new members this year, mostly students who just completed the eighth grade.

"The nice thing about it now is most kids have some experience," said Mara. "The older kids are helping the younger kids."

"I'm hoping to score better this year," said Mara.

The band will be marching in seven parades, up two from last year. Additions to the schedule this year are parades in Long Prairie on Saturday and Alexandria on June 27. (See shaded box for the complete schedule.) The Alexandria parade is by invitation only.

The band marched in Benson on Monday night and placed second among the Class A bands, behind Milaca. Park Center was the grand champion.

The Benson parade will be broadcast on Pioneer Public TV, Channel 10, Appleton, on Sunday, June 20, at 6 p.m.

Tonight, the band will march in the Town and Country Days parade, which starts at 7 p.m.

Look for results of marching band contests at and vote for Paynesville as the virtual champion at the Alexandria Band Festival.

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