AHS Marching Band
October 4, 2019
by Len Lathrop
Over the years the HLN has showcased many of the band’s activities, including concerts, Cabaret, playing carols to welcome Santa or an occasional parade — but have we ever looked at halftime at every home football game?
This year, 107 students make up the Marching Band; district music director Robert Scagnelli helped explain who these students are. They are artists who learn life lessons with their music and being a member of a group who must work together. Most of these musicians have played their instruments for over seven years. The band is mandated to all freshmen and all members of the Honors Symphonic Band. Marching is optional for sophomores, juniors, and seniors who are enrolled in Concert Band class only. There are currently five students who chose not to march. Non-marching students are still required to march in three parades each year (Woburn, Derry, and Hudson).
Director Scagnelli explained that these artists who participate in Marching Band are extremely dedicated and versatile. We have athletes– cheerleaders, football players, soccer players, volleyball players, swim team members, cross country runners (to name a few) — Drama Club members, members of multiple honor societies and clubs, and scholars. This year, of the 30 seniors, nine currently rank in the top 15 of their graduating class; band members hold the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth (two members are tied), 11th, and 12th ranks in the senior class.
Concert band is a credited course that counts toward the 24 credits needed for graduation; commitment seems equal or greater than many other curricular activities and groups. The marching band holds three to four optional rehearsals throughout the summer and a week of mandatory rehearsals from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in August called “Band Camp.” Band Camp is where they learn their halftime show for the upcoming season and prepare for the first two parades of the year -– Londonderry and Allenstown-Pembroke –- both of which occur before the first day of school. Once school begins, the marching band rehearses every Wednesday evening from 6 to 8:30 p.m. until the second week in October. There are also rehearsals from 3 to 4:30 p.m. every Friday that Alvirne hosts a home game. The band performs at all home games, an occasional away game, and played at all three football playoff games last season -– a commitment they hope to continue this year; and the way the football season is headed the first three Saturdays of November could be very busy.
Add to that class time every week. Scagnelli explained that “during class, we spend very little time on Marching Band, preferring to keep our focus on Concert Band repertoire. We are extremely proud of the work we do, the entertainment we are able to provide to our community, and the Esprit de Corps we showcase at each performance!”
The list of marching performances includes Londonderry Old Home Days Parade, Allenstown-Pembroke Old Home Days Parade, Salem Band Show, Woburn Halloween Parade, Derry Holiday Parade, and the Memorial Day Parade in Hudson are marching-band only events.
When you think about a marching band, the uniforms are another question we asked the director about. He explained that the cost of each uniform is roughly $500. Most programs replace their uniforms every 10 to 15 years; we have had these uniforms since 1998. We will likely need to replace them in the next few years, as they have already outlived their shelf-life –- a testament to the care with which students treat their uniforms.
Have you seen the Alvirne Bronco Marching Band? Maybe if you haven’t you should. Talking with a Campbell parent at a Cougar Football game, this parent had gone to the Saturday Alvirne game and told me how much the band at halftime improved the experience and how professional the band was. The ironic thing about our conversation was that due to the game having been moved from Friday to Saturday they only had about two-thirds of their members that night.