Band camp improves music and builds friendships

Isabelle Jones

WATCH an audio slideshow of marching band practice.

For some, the idea of marching for hours in the sun seems like nothing more than a hot, tiring experience. But for the Kent State Marching Golden Flashes, band camp is much more than day-long practices in 80-degree weather.

Band camp, which took place this year from Aug. 14 to Aug. 23, also involves meeting new people and forming lasting friendships.

“I know of specifically two girls in my section (who) have become best friends, and the first time they met was at band camp,” Jurdene Ingram, senior psychology major and one of the color guard team’s captains, said. “They’re inseparable. They complete each others’ sentences and it’s only been two weeks since they’ve known each other.”

Betsy Stirbens, junior music major and mellophone section leader, said working and spending time together for 10 days and attending nightly social events creates a family within the band.

“We’re not just classmates,” Stirbens said. “We actually care about each other.”

“It gives a great opportunity to meet new people and be involved in a group,” Eric Johnston, freshman music education major and trombone player, said.

It’s not just the students who think band camp builds friendships. Athletic bands director Scott Curfman thinks so too.

“The band comes together over those days,” said Curfman, who has been Kent State’s athletic bands director since 2004.

Aside from creating a family-like atmosphere, camp helps the band members improve their playing, marching, flag twirling and baton tossing skills. The three-a-day, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. practice schedule allowed members to learn their music before the school year began. This year, the band also had a performance at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Kent Aug. 20. Other area high schools, such as Tallmadge and Nordonia, played with the Roosevelt band. Kent State performed not only to excite high school band members about college band but also to get the Marching Golden Flashes to focus on performing early in the season, junior chemistry major and trumpet player, Noah Plymale, wrote in an e-mail.

Before the camp started, a pre-band camp weekend, held from July 25 to July 27, enabled members to start learning the music sooner.

Curfman said both pre-camp and band camp help the band try to “get better faster,” which he said is its goal each year.

“I don’t think we could be as successful as we are without band camp,” said Aaron Rex, senior music education major, trombone player and field commander for the band.

Curfman, however, does not decide the workings of the band alone. The day before new band members arrived at camp, section leaders, field commanders and captains met to discuss the season ahead, Ingram said. Once veteran band members arrived two days later, the first full-band practice took place.

Contact assistant Web editor Isabelle Jones at [email protected].