A New Rhythm: Band 2017

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Addie VonDrehle

Trumpets and French horns sound over the clamor on the basketball court. The pep band work their way through “Go Big Blue” as the student section bobs along to the music. In the clarinet section, senior Meredith Finley pauses for a moment to admire the amount of musicians, young and old, by her side.

It was little Lancer Band Night for all middle schoolers interested in joining band once they reached East. With over 50 eighth graders considering band at the high school level, it was the most East had seen in a long time. For Finley, it was the most she had ever seen.

Last year, the East band room became home to young, talented band director Alex Toepfer. Toepfer’s new style and suave gave band a younger, more modern feel. And with a new director came a brand new atmosphere. Though this atmosphere was noticed by many, band still strived to be recognized by the majority of East and its community. 

Finley knew that boys dressed in togas and girls in glitter covered jerseys payed came to basketball games to pay attention to the the team, not the band. But she also knew that without the cymbals and the snare drum, it wouldn’t feel like an authentic Friday night game. It became Finley’s goal that once she graduated, band would grow in her absence.

For East, bigger was better. Having the biggest football team meant having the best football team. Having the biggest student section meant having the best student section. This is why it was so shocking to Finley that a school with such a talented and prideful student body would have such a small band.

“East has the smallest band of any SMSD school,” Finley said. “We don’t know why but we’re working on fixing it.”

Finley’s hope was that by modernizing band, it would attract more incoming Lancers to join. It was up to the seniors to highlight the best parts of band and make sure those parts were noticed.

Toepfor, Finley, and senior Coleman Brockmeier knew that nothing attracts impressionable teenagers more than “what’s popular.” The three worked together to implement this realization in their band overhaul. 

Brockmeier got to work on composing modern pieces for the band to play, something no director had ever let them do before. 

“The first time [the band] ever successfully played my arrangement of “Shut Up and Dance” everyone went crazy hugging each other and laughing,” Brockmeier said. “It was the first really cool, original thing we had ever done.”

Finley knew that pep band was not the attraction of the main gym on a Friday night at seven. She knew that middle schoolers didn’t ask their parents for five dollars just to get in to hear trombones sound while flutes whistled. Finley did hope, however, that with a bit of modern music and some pep in their step, the East band would be appreciated and admired by enough young Lancers that band would prosper with their help.