Dave Johnke, band director at Havre High School, had nothing but good things to say about the students in his band during the school’s band camp this week.
“The first couple of days are grueling,” Johnke said. “But’s it’s cool to see the evolution as they go along.”
The camp lasted for four and a half days, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. today.
Band members practiced their halftime show for the four eight-hour days. During the school semester, they practice an hour before school, three times a week. The band camp is designed to bring them up to par so they can begin entertaining the crowds at halftime as soon as the sports seasons begin.
The first football game at which they will perform will be at the Festival Days game against Glendive Friday, Sept. 20. The songs they are playing for their western theme this year are the theme songs from “Magnificent Seven” and “Blazing Saddles.” They will be performing their halftime show at the football games and will play throughout the games from the stands.
The band will also perform this halftime show during the Festival Days parade Saturday, Sept. 21.
Johnke hired three people from Colorado to come to Havre to bring in a new perspective and offer their expertise to the students attending the band camp. Each of the three specialists oversaw specific sections to progress the kids’ playing throughout the week of band camp.
“Drumline is especially important,” Johnke said. The drumline provides the foundation for the rest of the band and helps keep them together.
“We’re trying to make it as clean as possible before school starts,” Johnke said.
Johnke hires the specialists with money raised by the band throughout the summer in fundraisers and a $50 fee from each student.
Amy Stevenson, a senior at Havre High School and saxophonist, is the drum major for the band. The drum major is the person standing atop the metal tower in front of the band, leading the band’s performance and carrying out the instruction of the band director.
Students participating in band this year are required to take part in marching band, which plays at the football games, but they have an option to join pep band, which plays at the basketball games.
“It’s been really fun,” Stevenson said. “The kids have been working hard and I think we’ll have a very good start.”
The band has brand new uniforms this year — blue jackets and black pants.
Seth Swick, who will be a freshman this upcoming school semester, plays the trumpet. Swick has been playing trumpet for three years and said he started because it looked fun and thought he would be able to play it well.
“(Band camp) is fun, we’re learning new things and fixing mistakes,” Swick said.
Matt Sanchez of Denver, who has taught band for two years and is one of the specialists hired by Johnke to work with the students, has specific goals for students participating in the camp.
“I honestly think it’s a work ethic thing," Sanchez said about what he feels is the most important thing the students get from the camp. “We ask them to work and it’s tough for them.
“They have such good attitudes,” he added. “That’s my favorite aspect of these kids.”