What do James Bond, mirrors and a GPS have in common? They are the themes of three award-winning shows by Lake-Lehman musical groups. And Lake-Lehman students are aiming for bigger wins at the regional championships in Wildwood, New Jersey this weekend.
The student musicians performed their programs for the public on May 1 in the high school gym before packing up to go to the Tournament of Bands competition this weekend. The Tournament of Bands (TOB) is one of the largest competitive band organizations in the United States.
James Bond is the theme of the Elementary Percussion program. The indoor percussion group just won a silver medal at the Chapter 7 regional competition in the Tournament of Bands program.
Fifth and sixt- graders dressed in tuxedo-print tee-shirts and played a variety of percussion instruments, including a wide range of drums. The melody was provided by marimba, xylophone, vibraphone and synthesizer andncluded jazz elements, tricky rhythms and even a voice clip of the famous Mr. Bond himself.
The group is directed by Patrick Stanley who said the group begins practicing in December and that many of the students play something other than percussion in the regular band program. The group includes fifth and sixth-graders from all of the district’s elementary schools.
Sarah Salus, of Shavertow,n is an 11-year-old student at Lehman-Jackson Elementary. She plays bells in the percussion group and clarinet in the band program and said the best part of the program for her is its big finish. Her reason for participating? “It’s fun,” she said.
“Mirrors” is the theme of the Lake-Lehman Indoor Color Guard program. The group just took first place at the Chapter 7 championships and is aiming high for the Atlantic title.
According to director David Marsh, the group’s program explores self-image and the colors in the program become progressively brighter and bolder as a young person becomes his or her own person. The group made up of 14 girls and one boy uses flags, gun props and large mirrors to present an athletic program involving flag tossing with acrobatic choreography.
Deanna Szabo, 17, of Hunlock Creek, is a senior. She says the group practices 20 hours a week and performs an outdoor fall season and a spring indoor season. Szabo underlined how important friendship is to her experience with the group. “It’s the family atmosphere that keeps us coming back,” she said.
Jessica Campbell, 18, of Lehman, is also a senior. She has been on the color guard team since eighth grade and said her favorite things about the program are “the people and the coaches.” For her, the group provides an escape from the pressures of high school life. But she emphasized the demanding nature of the group. “You can have fun but you also have to work hard.”
When it was their turn, members of the Lake-Lehman High School Indoor Percussion Ensemble covered the gym floor with a giant tarp representing a highway for their program called GPS, including slides as well as music. Unlike the elementary group which was stationary, the high school percussionists move in their competition. Their program depicts a highway journey which begins at Lake-Lehman and ends at the Wildwood competition.
Flashing and crashing cymbalists and focused drummers fanned out across the stage in complicated patterns. The front group of musicians stayed in place and included a drum set player, multiple keyboard instruments and percussion instruments. The music was complex, heavy on beat and rhythm and the noise level was rock-concert loud.
According to David Gambal who directs the high school percussion ensemble, students benefit from music ensembles in various ways. “It’s the camaraderie and teamwork,” he said. “It’s athletic.”
Gambal should know as this marks his 20th year with the marching band and his eighth with indoor percussion.
Brittney Mahony, 16, of Sweet Valley, is a sophomore who plays trombone in the band program but is a bass drummer in the percussion ensemble. She knows about the athletic element as bass drums can weigh up to 35 pounds. She joined the group because it sounded fun. “I thought, I’ll give it a try and I liked it,” she said.
Andrew Leahy, 14, of Sweet Valley is an eighth grader at Lake-Lehman Middle School and a percussionist in the regular band. His main reason for playing in the ensemble? “A love of music!” he said.
Carolyn Price, 15, a sophomore at Lake-Lehman, plays bassoon in the band but also plays synthesizer and cymbals. She, like many of the other students, mentioned the sense of belonging which their group inspires. “Without it, I don’t know where I’d be,” she said.